Alexander Gray Associates, New York presented Jennie C. Jones: New Compositions, an exhibition of 2021 paintings and drawings. In these works, Jones continues to explore the perception of sound within the visual arts while experimenting with new materials.
Unlike earlier Acoustic Panel Paintings, which utilized noise-absorbing foam panels, recent paintings feature architectural felt, an industrial material with sound dampening properties. Creating their own hushed sonic environments, the canvases layer monochromatic blocks of color and material to subvert the formalism of Minimalist painting. Transforming this geometry into something far more expansive and immersive, the works physically and aurally extend outwards to actively engage viewers.
Seamlessly integrating visual practices with auditory ones, the titles of Jones’s paintings often directly borrow from musical terminology. Dark Glissando (2021) and Deep Glissando (2021) reference glissando, the glide between pitches. Illustrating this slide, their stacked gray and black planes suggest slippage—as though the heavy panels are about to shift. Further destabilizing the surfaces of these works, Jones paints a trill-like burst of neon red on the edge of Dark Glissando that causes it to buzz with the echoed glow of bright pigment. This pulsing strip reappears in Fractured Extension (2021). In this diptych, twin flourishes of vibrant carmine demarcate the space between the painting’s panels, drawing attention to the literal fracture in its structure while causing each individual canvas to resonate with warm color.
Just as Jones’s paintings reimagine approaches to materiality and form, so too do her recent drawings break established structures only to reconstruct them in inventive ways. These works play with the musical staff, disassembling its five bars to contrast its precise linearity with streaks and blocks of monochromatic color. Re-presenting musical notation as a graphic device, the compositions recall experimental music traditions, translating mark-making into crescendo-like sounds.
Ultimately challenging minimalist conventions through unexpected gestures, Jones’s work deconstructs established modernist visual languages to make space for new meaning. Her recent paintings and drawings continue her project of mining the interrelated histories of art and music to advocate for an expanded twentieth century canon. As she concluded in a recent interview, “I remain very grateful for my early experiences, which sparked two things: a deep appreciation of history and art history, and a desire to question it. Where was I in that history? To be at once a part of and an interloper in the context of artmaking. .… [I]n hindsight I’ve come to understand that what I’ve really been trying to unpack is the radicality of refusal and the courage that it requires.”
Jennie C. Jones’s work will be the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in January 2022. Additional solo exhibitions include Jennie C. Jones: Constant Structure, The Arts Club of Chicago, IL (2020); Compilation, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX (2016); Absorb/Diffuse, The Kitchen, New York, NY (2013); and Directions: Jennie C. Jones: Higher Resonance, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (2013), among others. Her work has been included in countless group exhibitions, including Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow, New Orleans, LA (2020); Ground/work, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA (2020); Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (2020); and The Shape of Shape, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2019). Jones’s work is in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, among others. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rose Art Museum, Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award (2017); Robert Rauschenberg Award (2016); Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2013); The Studio Museum in Harlem, Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize (2012); and William H. Johnson Prize (2008). Jones is a Visiting Critic at Yale University, New Haven, CT and a faculty member in Painting at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY. She is also represented by PATRON Gallery, Chicago, IL.