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.