Los Angeles

John Paul Jones

Felix Landau Gallery

Although this area has developed a cult of artists attempting to work in a similar vein, John Paul Jones continues to out-distance the field. Not predilected to sudden changes, Jones manages to ease from one nuance to another with exhilarating invention and without changing his general direction. His mono- and duochromatic settings are still peopled by mysterious beings who stand or float motionless exhibiting pleasant or mildly pugnacious demeanors, as though faintly amused by the antics of foreigners in their land where all the usual means of communication have failed to make contact. They smile patiently but remain aloof—deaf and dumb to pleas for understanding.

If not upright, these benign characters recline on couches and biers, lightly draped, now pleasantly diverted, now solemn, awaiting that eternal sleep with good grace and the unfaltering trust recommended in Bryant’s Thanatopsis, “. . . approach thy grave / Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch / About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

Jones imbues his oils and pastels with a sense of isolation and serenity immediately transmitted to the viewer. The soft greys and pastel colors which surround the mute, withdrawn inhabitants establish moods which linger long after the eyes desert the picture. It is this easily accomplished emotional transference which makes Jones so pronouncedly superior to his many imitators. Double Devon, Encounter, and Four Figure Triptych were particularly impressive though one feels less the individual works in this display but more the pervasive temper saturating the whole.

Curt Opliger