Birmingham artist to exhibit in Los Angeles

American debut for fine artist and co-founder of Digbeth gallery.

A Birmingham artist whose strikingly life-like portraits question the contemporary pursuit of beauty has been asked to present a major solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

Oliver Jones uses chalk and pastel to portray the translucency and fragility of human flesh. His new series of canvases are to be shown at GUSFORD | los angeles from September 2014.

The works portray the visceral and often bizarre steps taken by people in their pursuit of physical ‘perfection’: a man being prepared for plastic surgery, a woman scorching under a sunbed and, perhaps most poignant of all, the artist’s own baby daughter with surgical lines marked out on her face.

In Get the London Look – the title a riff on the famous advertising slogan of Rimmel cosmetics – a homeless man named Ron stares out at the viewer. Whilst the title implies an image of London that is prosperous and glamorous, the reality for Ron and the thousands of other rough sleepers like him is a city full of hardship. The work simultaneously points to the illusory powers of advertising whilst drawing the viewers’ attention to an individual who is overlooked in everyday life.

Other pictures, such as You can Shine and the series 3 Steps to Younger Looking Skin, show the female pursuit of beauty, indicating the odd physical implications of being caked in a facemask or applying gold leaf to the skin.

Male physical perfection does not go unmentioned, with The Best a Man Can Get portraying a young man about to be made unconscious with anaesthetic in order for a cosmetic procedure to take place.

One particularly striking work is Designer Baby, in which a five month old child is prepared for surgery. Of the work, model led on his daughter, Oliver said: “There is a natural perfection that I am sure all fathers see in their children, however today’s science, coupled with commerce that appeals to society’s vain traits, means that humanity no longer has to leave everything down to nature. We feel that we also need to be part of the design.”

He continued, “My drawings aim to challenge the culture of perfectionism, and rather than present a version of reality based on falsification, aim to ‘re-advertise’ a truthful image of the flesh.”

GUSFORD owner and Director Kelsey Lee Offield commented: “I first saw Oliver Jones’ work in 2010 and was immediately impressed by not only his technique, but his critical engagement. After subsequently visiting him in his studio, it became very clear to me that Jones has a strong practice, and has the ability to challenge an audience, which is something I am always interested in.”

“I consider GUSFORD as platform for artists to be as creative and critical as they would like, and I am proud to be working with Oliver Jones and debuting his first North American solo exhibition at the gallery.”

Trained at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Oliver Jones is co-founder of A3 Project Space and Studios, the gallery and artist studios based in Digbeth, Birmingham. In 2012 he appeared in BBC 2’s Show Me the Monet exhibition, he has twice been shortlisted for the Threadneedle Prize and his work is owned by private collectors worldwide.

Oliver Jones’ studio at A3 will be open as part of Digbeth First Fridays on Friday 4 July, 6-8pm.

Pic – The Best a Man Can Get