Someone once summed up for Otis Jones their frustration with the way in which
people tend to view art today as "too many words, not enough eyes." This speaks
to the very heart of Jones' personal artistic philosophy as well as how he would
prefer viewers to approach his work.
Jones' works contain an ineffable quality allowing the viewer to focus on their
essence. His abstract, circular wall pieces and works on paper are provocative
and engaging without leading the viewer by the hand. Jones liberates his audience
by leaving them to consider the formal elements of color, scale and composition
to achieve a personal and emotional response, shying away from attaching too
much meaning to his work himself.
And while the viewer may initially respond to the physicality of his work, Jones
also conveys a deep sense of spirituality within each painted surface. The physicality
of the work is paramount for Jones. Works that at first glance may seem spare are, in
fact, intensely physical. Jones uses part instinct and part experience as he works
and reworks his surfaces, continually adding and subtracting.
Although Jones' palette seems to be consistently monochromatic, further investigation
reveals that each work is composed of various colors integrated, manipulated and worked
to the point that the overall coloration is created by the visual tension of colors
applied within the under painting. However, there is nothing artificial about Jones'
choice of colors. They embody each canvas as if they were grown there. Despite the
labor intensive process, Jones' works have such a natural quality that lingering
fingerprints serve as evidence of hand. They remain as the truthful byproduct of
handling, a signal that Jones does not want to be too precious about his work.
Otis Jones' work offers intuitive, abstract compositions of sparsely painted
canvas stretched over irregularly shaped wood relief's as well as heavily textured
works on paper. By painting abase plaster ground, then over painting with multiple
layers, sanding and painting again, the works develop depth and intensity. Crater-like
surfaces attain a romantic quality in their treatment, like walls of an ancient
ruin. His paintings on circular and rectangular wooden platforms, some with as much
as a 4" relief from the wall, become sculptural in presentation. "Blue Circle / Gray
Line" is a particularly stunning example of this series and serves as an example of
a new trend in Jones' work. Larger in scale and more colorful, Jones seems to be drawing
from more external sources for inspiration these days. His use of blue is derived from
his love of architectural blueprints. The very clay like reds of some of his most recent
works might be the influence of travels to New Mexico. While Jones' works have remained
fundamentally consistent throughout his career, they continue to evolve. Jones is not
interested in continually trying to say new things, rather he seeks out the best ways
in which to convey one idea.
Again, Jones gives no hint of ulterior designation for his work as he titles his pieces
simply and directly. "Small Black Circle, Previously Blue Circle," and "Horizontal and
Vertical Blue Lines" are other typical titles for his works. By labeling
his work with such descriptive titles, Jones further places the challenge of understanding
and interpretation on the viewer.
Jones received his B.F.A from Kansas State University in 1969, continued graduate studies
at Montana State University and earned his M.F.A. in 1972 from the University of Oklahoma.
He was the 1982 recipient of a Visual Artists Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment
for the Arts and has taught at Texas Christian University, the University of Texas at Austin
and has served as an Associate Professor and Visiting Professor at University of Texas at
Arlington. Jones' work can be found in many private and public collections such as the Dallas
Museum of Art, A.H. Belo Corporation, American Airlines, Rosewood Corporation and Compaq