Blue Mountains-based artist Gabrielle Jones is currently enjoying two things I’m envious of: an Italian summer, and the very warm reception of her work at a solo exhibition at Gallery Grefti, in the Italian town of Umbertide.
Not. Jealous. At. All.
On the upside, she did get me to write the catalogue essay, republished below with her permission:
“Juice. Petrol. Fuel for the motor. It’s what fires the belly and powers a person’s creative faculties. For Gabrielle Jones, it is the act of painting itself that provides the stimulant she requires.
Unabashedly lyrical, Gabrielle Jones’ series JUICE possesses the vitality and dynamism of an artist for whom the physical process of mark making is sheer joy. Saturated with colour, these wildly abstract compositions have the all over energy and grace of a dancer twirling across a stage, fabric billowing in their wake. Built on a foundation of drawing, the sweep and complexity of Jones’ painterly language might present as a feverish tangle of coloured lines or a series of loosely demarcated sketches rendered in charcoal. Whatever the approach, each work embodies a unique consideration of the interplay of colour, motion, structure and balance, and a deeply felt understanding of the expressive potential of the graphic mark. Using a sustained flurry of painterly gestures, she defines space, establishes scale and generates a quality of light. It is a technique that imbues the work with her presence, giving the impression that Jones is at once impulsive and imperiously in control.
Though the colours and sensations evoked in Jones’ paintings are reminiscent of nature – of flowers, landscape and the brittle aridity of the Australian bush –any figurative elements quickly swim in and out of the viewer’s focus. Like a vague perception of a memory long held, these works are more akin to a sensory experience of environment than a precise replication. Energized by her experimentations with tone and gesture, Jones sets out to create something contemplative and abstract from her experiences – inspired not only by her physical surroundings, but by the general milieu of cultural references, life events, human interactions and emotional responses she observes. These are scenes less seen than remembered.
The fluidity of Jones’ brushwork reflects the intangible, magical quality of nostalgia, but so too does it reflect the vital importance of music in Jones’ practice. A lover of contemporary composers, and heavily rhythmic or repetitious arrangements, Jones uses music as a way of focusing her mind and immersing herself wholly in the creative process. Embracing colour and motion as her dance partners, Jones records the actions of her body, and by extension her brushstroke, as it moves in response to the music. The more inventive the melody, the more spontaneous and primal her painting. The result is a revelation about her emotions before the grandeur of nature, and the potential of colour and paint to be transcendent.
There is a strong sense of synergy that prevails throughout the works in JUICE. Jones’ ability to embrace the unknowing of gestural mark making rejuvenates her art practice daily, making for a dynamic exploration of colour, process, musicality and movement. Informed by theory, but inclined towards intuitive thinking, Jones has created a suite of works that brims with radiant self-possession, conveying the personal and internal in an intense demonstration of what it means to be alive in the world.