Southard Reid is proud to present the exhibition Sad Hill, by London based artist Neal Jones.
Jones makes paintings and sculpture using everyday materials and subjects from his working life, his relationship with painting and especially nature, filtered through his memory and imagination. Sad Hillreflects Jones’ ongoing interest in humanity’s connection with the natural world. The two are entwined, locked together in the life cycle. Jones wryly meditates on what it is to live and create in our contemporary culture: “I make work from disappointment. I am anti Pop and Trash and their flaccid consequences”.
Jones’ fundamental source material is off-cut wood and old timber that he re-claims to become the structural backbone of his practice, his canvas. He salvages the discarded and redundant and instills new function and form as art – a pleasing absurdity, making the ‘high’ from the ‘low’. Jones also paints text onto old panels and boards, like rough signs or reminders, and has recently made modernist-style furniture from wood found in skips.
The painting Tree Beard could be a self-portrait, or a universal representation of metamorphosis. Jones frequently personifies nature by making brush marks of smiley and sad faces. The hill in the painting Sad Hill, monumental within the painting’s composition, has been humanized with a sad face, suggesting the earth’s lament, or his despair. T-shirt is an almost abstract painting, the picture plane dominated by one block of colour, but here the simple subject is re-animated, a poem to the everyman.
In Jones’ work the banal and the serious receive equal treatment and blend seamlessly. The result is sometimes hopeful, sometimes sombre, frequently both. His paintings suggest a hidden language, where truth, nonsense and humour co-exist with melancholy - a sadness tinged even with existential terror - like the paintings of Philip Guston or the plays of Beckett. Jones’ use of stage-like curtains as compositional framing devices evokes a connection with forms of entertainment and theatre. There is a certain English sensibility too – with socially aware absurdist comedy, like Monty Python - Sad Hill could also be the title of a song by The Smiths or a poem by Phillip Larkin.
Jones’ painterly language is singular and apparently simplistic, but it also exhibits a wide range of links to history; recently there have been references to Constructivism, Neo-Expressionism and L.S Lowry among others.
The themes of his practice grapple with fundamental philosophical questions. However, the defining quality of Jones’ vision is its powerful representation of the deeply personal.
Neal Jones was born in Liverpool in 1969. Recently his work has been shown in the John Moores Prize exhibition 2010, he was a prizewinner in 2008. He had a solo show at L-13, Clerkenwell in 2010 and with Billy Childish in 2009.