Rachel Jones' painting at the Long Museum
Rachel Jones’ say cheeeeese, 2022, is showcased as part of the exhibition Being In the World—The Tenth Anniversary of the Long Museum, in West Bund, Shanghai, curated by Iwona Blazwick.
Following a time when we have been unable to be in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this exhibition is conceived in response to our yearning for social encounters - all through the prism of the artist’s eye.
The human figure dominates. The assembled paintings and installations encompass artists’ self-portraits, family albums, strangers in surreal scenarios and groups gathered in social activities. A multitude of aesthetic approaches appears in the works, which range from collage to hyperrealism and reflect major movements in modern and contemporary art.
Rachel Jones investigates the sense of self as a visual, visceral experience using abstracted motifs of the mouth and teeth, as she explains, ‘to communicate ideas about the interiority of Black bodies and their lived experience.’ Literal and symbolic entry points to the body, these forms are repeated across series to create associative, even familial, relationships between works that underscore their kinship as part of the artist’s ongoing investigation of identity. The same critical eye that she turns upon questions of cultural identity and selfhood is applied to the language of painting itself: ‘Having a simple starting point with a mouth and teeth suddenly becomes infinite in its possibilities.’ Working intuitively, Jones uses oil sticks on canvas to build up layers of colour from which forms arise with startling immediacy, combining a kaleidoscopic palette with bold motifs and an interplay of rich textures.