The feminine identity and beauty are often attributed to nature. Seeds. Reproduction. Growth. Magnificence. Lust. Covetousness. For these reasons, and many more, floral paintings have an extensive presence in the scholarly facets of Art History. Artistically, man’s existence reverberated within these delicate, painterly blooms. We associate Mother Nature with serenity and beauty. However, the equally powerful side to this creative and controlling force is destructive, deadly, and harmful. Earth can be simultaneously restorative, loving, and gorgeous, yet out-of-control, devious and unpredictable. With these lures of attraction - flower, bud, or petal, can also be the unforgiving wave of Mother Nature’s wrath.
The beloved floral arrangements and pictorial renditions, dating back to, and beyond the Old Dutch Masters and traditional easel paintings celebrated not only romance but the female form her innocence, purity, desires, and sensualities. The lineage of floral painting celebrates and glorifies these concepts and inspirations through the individualistic explorations of color, form, illustration, and an undying devotion to our natural surroundings.
Recommencing on this time-honored genre is contemporary artist, Jennifer JL Jones. Gentle Wild, a solo exhibition at New River Fine Art, explores what the artist sees as “echoes of life”. In Gentle Wild, artworks reveal abundant wildflowers, vibrant gardens, and ocean rhythms within the cherished and tranquil moments of external and internal reflections. Yet, Gentle Wild also portrays other powerful forces found in Nature – a raw energy of untamed fierceness. Jones reveals brutal strength and power through bold and bright colors. She often describes her paintings as “inner self-portraits”, siting nature in its many layered, intangible forms as a guide and source of ethereal connection and engagement.
Armed with an abstract aptitude for flowery adornments, Jones pulls forth the sensual qualities of nature’s welcoming clutch. A reflection of life, her paintings spring to life with ravishing reds, and calming blues. Swift and deliberate gestures describe the breezes of a summer day, the winds at our back, and the glows of a hidden and sumptuous garden. Zen-like inner-reflections fill the vacuums of tranquility. The paintings invite the viewer into seemingly orchestrated lushes of infinite landscapes. These abstract and imaginary orchards of luxurious botany swirl, whirl, and engulf us, drawing us into their supreme transcendence. The allurement is inescapable, almost caressing, as the colors, shapes, and strokes sensualize the painting and spark within us the wanton of more.
Gentle Wild, the signature painting that shares the same title as the show, is a 72 x 60-inch iconic composition that summarizes the exhibition with its sweeping gestures of elegancy. Explosions of color cascade over to the left side of the composition, concealing the coveted shimmer of caressing ripples. Flowers, stems, and petals welcome the viewer into a world of serenity. The cerulean abyss is enticing, yet mysterious. Xanthous glows catapults the viewer into the fray of vivid foliage. The colors surge like erotic caresses as we advance through oranges, magentas, and blues. A myriad of sensations, feelings, and emotions engulfed us in a swarm of angels.
The Light of Day, a towering vertical painting, measuring 60 x 40-inch is more ephemeral than the others in the exhibition. The transient properties of the painting amass and arise from Mother Nature’s bouquet at the bottom of the landscape. The levitating and apparitional streaks are but timelapse captures of spiritual energies, leaving the 2-D confinements of the painting float off into the universe.
Cannelita, a 50 x 80-inch horizontal landscape, is fiery in its Lolita-esque seductiveness. Cannelita, meaning “beautiful garden”, exudes heat, passion, riches, and spoils - personifying the female entity that men wage wars over. Within the painting, the canons of white purity intermingle within the intense crimsons, leaving us entranced with seduction… a visual cajolery.
To bask in the beauty of nature is healing, and to paint it is mesmerizing, but to embrace its revitalizing abilities is essential…which is why Jones’ contemporary reinterpretation of florals and landscapes succeed in Gentle Wild. In the ongoing lineage and pedigree of art, there will always be a cherished place for these elegant and celebrated compositions, and Jennifer JL Jones gives us an unabashed reason to love landscape painting again and again as one of the best contemporary abstract floral painters of our generation.
(Text by Diego Dietrich)