Light and Shadow Living quietly on a barrier island off the Georgia coast, or on his farm in New York State, Jim Jone’s art explores the spiritual extremes of both exalted beauty and profound despair. Addressing the former, paintings of haunted marshscapes and gnarled trees shrouded in Spanish moss, with shadows pierced by bolts of sunlight, might be typical. Treasured coastal visions such as these, or beaches just before or after a storm are common subjects, reflecting Jones’ lifelong absorption with the secret of nature, however dark they might sometimes become.
In his sculpture, Jones meets the challenge of nature’s secrets head-on, and with equal prolificacy. Both a dedicated conservator and a lifelong hunter-gatherer, Jones’ sculptural efforts to focus upon the darker side of nature, in which evolutionary fact sometimes becomes admixed with anthropomorphic allusion, in a cornucopia of life forms gone wrong. An uncomfortable relationship between man and beast and suggestions of man’s beastly behavior, suffuse these works with an intrinsic strength of expression that is, at times, too close for comfort. Shadows sometimes suggested in Jones’ paintings become real as life in the three dimensions of his sculptural works.
Much of Jim Jones’ sculpture falls into several distinct categories. Several images of a human form in seemingly peaceful repose are broken by the fact that the material chosen for this serene expression is either agglomerated concrete or fur, alluding, perhaps, to human-animal ambiguities. Other human figures are shown either suspended or on pedestals, also in concrete or in fur, their postures suggesting supplication, shame or suffering, exuding an incipient religiosity that is simultaneously both pleasing and jarring.
Expressions of animal suffering, and of shackled humankind seem somewhat more straightforward, conceivably even cathartic in the historical sense, hence all the more poignant. One wonders whether man’s inhumanity to animals might be partially avenged in several of these works by the artist’s arbitrary admixture of man and beast, as if a deserved evolutionary slight to human arrogance. If these have been Jones’ intentions, such expressions of man’s beastly behavior have never been timelier than now.