For the first time in Britain after twenty years, the Royal Academy of Arts presents ‘Allen Jones RA’, an exhibition celebrating the British artist’s five decades of work development. Exhibiting works from the 1960s, the six rooms within the Burlington Gardens building draw visitors from Jones’ renowned figure sculptures, large paintings, as well as his creative process in his drawings. The exhibition opens to public on the 13th November, and Ultra Vie had the opportunity to give an inside track of Allen Jones RA.
Allen Jones is known to be one of the most influential artist in British pop art. Although he has attempted to not be labelled under Pop Art, he has carried his inspiration with the visualisation of women in popular culture through the media, from the aspects of erotic to glamourous. With human figures as a central focus along with his surrealism approach, his artworks have been heavily criticised in the 1970s, though it was not intended.
Jones’ intention in presenting his admiration to the female body and sexuality was his intention to offer a shock towards art. Even though Jones achieved his objectives from his works, the consequential shock was not what he expected back when Jones presented his works the first time. As much as he was a highlight in the Pop Art movement, his works became an indicating point for anti-feminism movement.
‘Table’ (1969) and ‘Green Table’ (1972) were presented in the first room in the exhibition, in directing visitors straight to the point of Jones’ indicative point in his artist career. These figures still hold its negative perception as ‘Table’ was firstly shown in Jones’ solo exhibition at Arthur Tooth & Sons in 1970, alongside with ‘Chair’ and ‘Hat Stand’ (1969) – both are also present in the exhibition. In defying the daily perception from objects to daily clothing, Jones’ wanted to depict a figure’s shape of a body and new definition in perceiving art.
Fundamentally as a painter, a large room hold Jones’ fine paintings in his exploration of abstract expressionism, surrealism and futurism. The range of paintings are within his career progression in the last several decades, including ‘The Artist Thinks’ (1960) claimed to be his first fully-expressed painting. Within these paintings, Jones’ fascination with figure and sexuality is immediately recognised, yet there’s always a danger in perceiving them.
With figures allowing the artist to take his expressive approach further, Jones is capable in literally expressing the two mediums with three-dimensional works that seems to ‘emerge’ from the canvas. The symbiotic relationship that exists for him in between paintings and painted sculptures. Witnessing the room of a somewhat staged performance, Jones emphasises his charge of actions within the theatrical scenes in the works, such as in bars and clubs.
The final room of Jones’ finished works displays a chorus of figure sculptures, allowing viewers in the room to examine the detail of Jones’ attention towards them. The ‘Hat Stand’ (1969) is among the figures, eye-level positioned, blurring the restricted access to study Jones’ works. Literal figures emerging from the walls are also exhibited in this room, such as ‘Stand In’ (1991/2), as a bold example to a another of Jones’ expressive three-dimensional approach.
Additionally, the exhibition gives an extensive insight to Jones’ creative and narrative progresses, with a room of organised display of cut-outs and sketches, as well as a space of displayed grid sketches and storyboards. Several sketches are relatively large, almost alike to its final piece.
Jones lives with ‘three artistic languages’ of figure sculpture, painted steel sculpture, and painting on canvas. His representational visualisation of women connecting to the notion of performance and observing the gender and sexuality subject has given him challenges into a controversial perspective by viewers. Yet, if it was not for what already occurred five decades ago, our perception of art would not be reviewed and challenged again, with new questions emerging in defining art and its concepts such as in Allen Jones’ works.
The Allen Jones RA exhibition is open to public from the 13th November 2014 until 25th January 2015:
Open to Public:
10 am – 6 pm daily (last admissions 5.30 pm); Fridays until 10 pm (last admission 9.30 pm)
£11.50 full price (£10 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and friends of the RA go free.
Tickets for Allen Jones RA are available daily at the RA or online at www.royalacademy.org.uk Group bookings: Groups of 10+ are asked to book in advance. Telephone 020 7300 8027 of email firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Jones RA
Royal Academy of Arts,
London W1S 3ES