Devoid of pictorial motifs, narratives and at times even color, the work of Texas-based artist Otis Jones is muted yet intensely physical, and stubbornly original. Shunning the grandiose, Jones’ interests lie in the most basic essentials: the relationship of form, composition and color, and the subtle nuances that give his paintings marvelous character.


“I’m interested in objects, patina, wear, and age. Each piece takes on its own geology. I don’t hide anything. It’s a very real object”, Jones once said. Thus the desire to celebrate the history of his process comes centerstage in each work. Roughly-cut canvases are tacked on irregularly shaped hand-made wood frames where both the layered plywood edges, usually four inches thick, and staples are deliberately exposed as compositional elements.


Then, guided by intuition and experience, Jones continuously applies and sands away paint. This empirical ritual is repeated until an abraded texture of intense visual depth is achieved. Cratered like the Moon, the surface is a palimpsest of the maker’s hand – one can sense its genealogy, the inscribed time, and sincerity.


Jones’ palette seems to be monochromatic but a closer look reveals a complex tension of colors, manipulated and overpainted in numerous layers. Jones employs an economy of formal elements: lines, dots and squares. These geometric shapes of contrasting colors are either excavated from previous layers or important enough for Jones to spare from erasure. Nothing feels contrived here – every element embodies the painting as if it was grown there.


There are Post-Minimalist roots, even philosophies of Asian Mono-ha, but by focusing on the painting process as its own subject, Jones’ work attains an ineffable aura of permanence. Personal, spiritual and full of eccentricities, they promote a meditative perception synonymous with the best Abstract paintings.


Born in Galveston, Texas in 1946, 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, Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City).

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