Thursday, 19 May 2011
Yesterday's Lily: Jeffrey Catherine Jones 1944 - 2011
There will probably be a lot of tributes to Jeffrey Catherine Jones, who died today, but artists have this knack of affecting each of us personally - it's what they do - so here's mine.
I first discovered Jeff Jones' (as he was then) work in Heavy Metal magazine in the 80's, 'I'm Age' was the one-page strip that leapt out at me. The simple but beautifully drawn line line work, strangely philosophical and full of metaphor but with a distinct humour appealed to me. The fact all the women were naked helped! His painted compositions and covers managed to turn shadow, hair and clothing into strange dreamlike shapes purely as a compositional element. His shadows were deep and mysterious, and his lighting never gratuitous. And he was the master of simple composition, where so little seemed to be happening but so much was being said, an achievement few artists manage. The women he painted were more allegorical and sensitively drawn than many of the female figures one was prone to seeing in 'fantasy', certainly in the 80's, and sometimes seemed androgynous and imbued with a degree of ambiguity that was refreshing.
I don't know much about Jeffrey Jones' life, why should I? The life of public figures, on even a small level, often gets too confused with what they achieve and what they create. But she wrote an autobiography for her website which can be found HERE. Suffice it to say, bravery takes on many forms, one of those ways is to be true to yourself, probably the hardest kind of all.
Jeffrey Catherine Jones spent a lifetime creating extraordinary art, and that's how I'll remember her. As Frank Frazetta said: "Jeffrey Jones is the greatest living painter."
My favourite 'I'm Age', followed by some scans from an old copy of 'Heavy Metal' I have containing an interview with Jeff Jones.