Otis Jones

November 23, 2019, through January 18, 2020

Saturday, November 23, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. 

An exhibition of recent work by Dallas painter Otis Jones will be on display November 23, 2019, through January 18, 2020, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held Saturday, November 23, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show will feature a selection of Jones’s tactile, depth-driven, nonrepresentational paintings that reveal and revel in the artist’s process and his relationship with the materials. 

“I’m making things that speak to me and that reflect on my aesthetic and my soul,” remarks Jones, who juxtaposes the formal with the organic and the personal with the universal to create quiet, contemplative microenvironments. To achieve this, he reduces subject matter to its formal elements, highlighting the vastness of simplicity. At the same time, he situates the lines and shapes within lush, painterly planes that imply a depth of conscience. He refers to these austere yet provocative combinations as “essentialist.” 

Jones’s pieces are traditional, in that they are pigment on canvas However, they also take the concept of a painting to a more sophisticated level, wherein the structural components are as much a part of the piece as its surface, which he manipulates by sanding, scraping, staining, or layering marble dust, pigment, or resin. Jones does not only leave apparent the raw edges, plywood strata, and rows of staples underneath that intricate surface-he emphasizes them. In this vein, they become building blocks as well as finished piece. “I want it to be a painting, and I want people to see how it’s made. That reinforces the beauty of the object itself,” says Jones.

Jones traces his fascination with the “objectness” of things back to his childhood, when he spent time with his grandfather on the farm constructing utilitarian things like milking stools. There, Jones watched as the objects were used over time, developing patinas and signs of wear, and in a sense, their own identities. He envisioned them outside of the barn, in places that would value their tangible and visual presence, and in turn, their distinctive colors, shapes, and textures. 

Jones’s paintings are saturated with process, ritual, and intent. Painted, sanded, and scraped again and again, the canvases illuminate the artist’s practice, but also the deft manipulations, deliberate movements, and care he invests in transforming raw materials into a cohesive visual statement. 

“I want to really amplify painting as object,” says Jones, who views his work not as a vehicle to the thing, but as the thing itself. “All paintings are objects, but I want to heighten that. It’s not a window, and I want to reinforce that. I’m more about the physical presence of the work, and the physical presence of the surface, how it’s constructed, and the physical qualities of what I make.”

About Otis Jones

Otis Jones has an extensive exhibition history spanning more than five decades. He has mounted solo and group shows in galleries across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and in New York City, Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Brussels, and Copenhagen, among others. His work has also appeared in many museum exhibitions, including those at the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Art Center of Waco, the Austin Museum of Art, the Cullen Center in Houston, the Arlington Museum of Art, the Galveston Art C enter, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe.

Jones’s work has been featured in various publications, among them Art in America, Artlies, Artforum online, Artnet magazine, D Home magazine, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Observer, the Houston Chronicle, New American Paintings, the New York Times, NY ARTS magazine, Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram, and THE magazine. His paintings belong to numerous public collections, among them the Dallas Museum of Art, the MIT List Visual Art Center, the Tyler Museum of Art, and San Antonio’s Witte Museum. Corporate collections include American Airlines, the A.H. Belo Corporation, AT&T, the Compaq Corporation, GTE, and Neiman-Marcus. 

Otis Jones earned his MFA from the University of Oklahoma and his BFA from Kansas State University. He has taught at Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington, among other universities, and in 1982 he was the recipient of a Visual Arts Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

A monograph on Jones, including an essay by Luanne McKinnon, a review by John Yau, and an interview with the artist, is scheduled for release this winter.