Rachel Jones One of The Times critics' chosen nominees for breakthrough artist at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards
By Rachel Campbell-Johnston
You can’t miss her paintings. Her monumental canvases — she describes them as “an exegesis of colour” — work a bit like the tornado in The Wizard of Oz. They whip you up and away into a delirious new world. Furious reds and frigid greens, subtle blues and feverish yellows, hot pinks and frozen whites mass, swarm and clash across their wide expanses. Patterns throb and pulsate.
Rachel Jones, 31, working with oil stick and oil pastel, produces richly textured compositions that are neither completely abstract nor quite figurative. The smile has become a signature subject. She sees it as a complex phenomenon — and not least because, in black culture, the mouth and its teeth have been so fetishised. But her work is wide open to other interpretations. The language of colour can be understood by everyone.
A recent revival of expressionistic painting has brought about a dramatic shift in the way we approach art. Suddenly we find ourselves looking through the lens of feeling and emotion. After years of the conceptual, that suddenly seems wonderfully fresh.