I will admit to being rather intrigued by Mathew Jones work when I first saw the posts on social media promoting his exhibition at Shaws Cafe. Over the last few weeks as I have watched the post gain traction, my interest has not waned.
The buzz around this artist is thanks to the strong support system from within the creative community, particularly ICAN, but mostly due to his own determination, drive and raw talent.
There are not many artists I know of that have secured their own exhibition within the first year of practice and has achieved the level of interest that Mathew has received from local press and the general public. People are rooting for him and with very good reason.
It has been well documented that Mathew has been struggling with some demons and that painting has become his lifeline. That is not the only reason that his first solo exhibition entitled “Art saved my life” is so powerful. Mathews work is honest, brave and just down right astonishing. Within one year of picking up a brush, Mathew is creating work at a level you would expect from someone who has been painting for a very long time.
The exhibition, that runs for five weeks at Shaws Café. It is a retrospective of everything that Mathew has created within his short journey as a practitioner. A mix of abstract landscapes, mixed media and collage. Within moments of the exhibition opening the room was filled and it was hearting to see the such fantastic support for this artist.
I spent some time reflecting over the work presented and was drawn to the piece that relied heavily on the use of paint and collage. I felt that these pieces were the most successful and complex. Layers of block colours applied in bold strokes over a dark background are broken up by delicate mark making in pen. In contrast to other works, the paint appears almost marbled which you would expect to soften the images but seems to have the opposite effect. I contribute that to the colour palette of reds and oranges used and the flashes of white.
Two pieces, “The Bang” and “Self Portrait” stole the show for me. It is the use of appropriated images on top of painterly backgrounds that I found the most poignant and revealing. With the use of collage Jones introduces the figurative form, predominantly masculine, within several of his works. Within “Self Portrait” I feel he reveals himself to be the masculine energy within his own work. There is a strong link to exploring anatomy and at times a humorous use of animals within the mixed media works.
Self-reflection and the journey within is clearly evident in these early pieces and my hope is that Jones carries this forward in his future pratice. A future that I predict to be bright for this fledgling artist.
My advice would be to visit Shaws Café if you can, order a coffee and spend some time really considering what is displayed there. It may just inspire you to pick up a paint brush or it might remind you why you picked up a paint brush in the first place.
Image courtesy of Kate Yates.
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