Pierogi | February 15 - March 18, 2002
Kim Jones, “Untitled,” 1995 - 2004. Acrylic and ink on color photograph, 13.75 x 10.75”. Image courtesy the artist and Pierogi.
A dumb, looming head in space eyes the visitor from the first drawing of Kim Jones’s Work on Paper at Pierogi. The lips are fleshy, the ears pronounced. Corporeality, rendered, floats in the surrealist mires of this artist’s mind. Jones’s 17 pencil, ink, and acrylic works on paper create ugly worlds with sensitive colors and comic-compulsive lines. Winding fleshy organs and proturberances coalesce from a tangled spatial structure. They recall Ensor, Masson, and Zap comics but have an unusual sense of time, or rather history. Jones has been composing this body of work for the last thirty years, and is showing it now for the first time. The drawings are dated in a continuum, such as 1972-1986-1998. As with his “Mudman” performances and war-gaming drawings, Jones seems to be interested in an art of continual mental accretion, where base forms are made to self-organize. This is compelling for an audience when the structure becomes apprehensible, or, as in the strange desire to observe baking through an oven window, when things are on the cusp of becoming. Jones’s drawings are of this latter state. There seems to be an open-ended sense of conflict and unearthing at work. Given the open nature of Jones’s automatist project, however, the works have a usual degree of finish, or rather resolution, which functions as a proof of seriousness. The drawings are most interesting when the iconography functions to conflate times (archaic Greek heads, earthbound gargoyles) and less interesting when they recall doodling in the present tense. “Controlling the Weather” is truly bizarre, and so mesmerizing—a central figure, which resembles a circus bear crossed with spare ribs, stands poised between a Doric temple and what appears to be an Old West mine shaft, with the drama unfolding under a dusty tea-colored sky. An impossible stasis is suggested.
JOHN HAWKE is a contributor to the Rail.