The Eye of the Blackbird
3 November - 3 December 2011
In this fascinating and mysterious new group of paintings, Peter Ashton Jones acknowledges an intellectual debt to Wallace Stevens' poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (a poem that epitomises Stevens' reality/imagination dialectic), and extends and confirms his exploration of strategies, themes and motifs that have appeared in some of his previous paintings.
The strategy underpinning the paintings is multi-layered and complex, ranging from a preoccupation with consciousness, to historical situations, to poetic metaphor, to the post-modern situation, and to the history of painting. This rich terrain of ideas is rather like a field of battle from which the painting struggles to emerge as a thing in its own right. The Tug of War embodies the process by which a painting can 'become' something in its own right - the image or picture is in the same state of stress and centrifugal force as the 'painting' - Milo's Muzzle becomes a very strange object/cage engulfed by a rather calm landscape, and the pub's familiar The One Armed Bandit is reduced almost to abstraction, entering a realm of ethereal mystery far removed from the garish original. Thus the banal becomes part of Jones' bigger picture, where all objects and pictures, and above all paintings themselves, become emblematic and metaphorical and open to rich interpretation and consideration.
Although the same hand and authority is present throughout, one could pun that Jones' work is 'unstylish' - no single painterly solution can be brought to resolve or amalgamate the raw material of ideas into a single 'new' position or style. Each painting is to some extent its own world, has evolved according to its own rules and has taken for itself some position or bit of territory which gives it an independence, as if Jones has given each painting a job to do. Perhaps they are all part of a big picture that can never be a picture.
A limited edition letterpress print by New North Press is being produced to accompany the exhibition.
Peter Ashton Jones is the co-founding editor of the painting magazine Turps Banana.