From Carrie Miller…
In his latest exhibition Alan Jones continues his explorations of a history and identity that, while still dominant in Australian culture, is almost subversive as a topic in contemporary art. Jones’s interest in Australia’s colonial past is especially personal in his exhibition New South Wales, a series of works that emerged from a recent trip he took to track his ancestral roots in Northern England. This journey uncovered both fascinating historical information – he visited the site of the alleged crime of his convict ancestor Robert Forrester which put him on the First Fleet – and also provided much of the imagery for the paintings in the show.
Jones’s practice is a witty and insightful exploration of national identity, and one that doesn’t shy away from the ways in which the artist himself is implicated in our malignant colonising past. But it also goes beyond old ideological binaries by using highly personal material and juxtaposing imagery and motifs in a way which communicates the nature of historical narratives themselves. It’s a fresh approach to a well-worn trope in Australian art and one that’s mirrored in the originality of his work, which manages to be both visually arresting and strangely contemplative.
Until November 17
Watters Gallery, East Sydney.
Pic: Alan Jones, The Mother Land, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 108 x 93cm. Courtesy the artist and Watters Gallery.