Huw Jones

Huw Jones

Imaging Wales

Although he lives in a small seaside town in a remote part of north Wales, Huw Jones’ paintings are intensely urban. The mind, his own, pervades his work, which might best be described as "closet biographical". The paintings are essentially his story, which can only be read fully by interpreting a highly personal iconography in which recognisable depictions of local place act as metaphors for mental states. We might read these as simple autobiographical diary statements but they resonate oddly and there is a Magritte-like sense of displacement and dislocation. Figures always have an element hidden, generally the face, but the body is never shown in its entirety. Autobiography is further emphasised by his invention of ‘attributes’, mimicking those of saints in medieval art. The significance of his attribute/objects is sometimes further rendered ambiguous by annotation, rather in the manner of Duchamp’s N’cest une pipe.

Jones tends to work intensively on a theme over a period, so that his work falls naturally into series. The most notable and sustained of these has been his Hats, in which prominent kitsch – through their media ubiquity and the general clichédness of their representation – ‘personalities’, are depicted, their images are distillations of photographs, appropriately filtered by being downloaded from television. In disembodied heads or part views of the figure, set against decorative backgrounds Jones feels they would have chosen, these works are deeply ironic. Extravagant hats reveal the subject’s ‘attributes’ and invite one to imagine the story of their tastes and predilections. In other, closely related works, the ‘attributes’ are borne about the body, so that Tom Jones wears a garage mechanic’s multi-pocketed dungarees, each compartment packed with none-too-subtle cock and balls. Robbie is the reverse. The parts of the singer on which the eye first fixes have been disappeared into plastified Action Man androgyny, the wonted groiny priapic thrust, frustratingly lost in a blandness of the surgical bandage-coloured sexlessness. In Huw Jones’ work each element depicted is worth a thousand words.

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