By Heidi Sutton
Although it’s only the first week of January, 2017 is turning out to be a very good year for Port Jefferson artist Robert Jones. The 29-year-old is excited to share his art with the community in his debut show, “Complicating Abstracts,” at the Port Jefferson Free Library now through the month of February. In this unique exhibition, which will feature approximately 40 paintings, the viewer will have the opportunity to witness the past few years that Jones has spent developing a unique style and his journey to apply this style to a form.
Sal Filosa, marketing and research librarian, said the library was pleased to be the host of Jones’ first exhibition, adding, “Robert’s creativity through reflection is truly unique among the themes of artwork displayed at the library, and we hope that community members and passersby will stop in to view this stimulating artwork.”
Raised in Stony Brook, Jones graduated from Ward Melville High School in 2006 and moved down to Georgia in 2011 before returning to the area two years ago. In addition to being a musician and songwriter, Jones started painting in earnest in his early 20s. Entering Stony Brook University’s Studio Art program this semester, Jones will concentrate on painting, drawing, printmaking and graphic design. He feels that now is the perfect time to have an exhibit and to branch out and connect with the community. “I want to further myself; I want to progress.”
The artist is drawn to the works of abstract painters like Franz Kline (“I really like the simplicity; the black and white”) László Moholy-Nagy and Piet Mondrian and finds inspiration in local landscapes like West Meadow Beach. He enjoys visiting the Nassau County Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Heckscher Museum in Huntington.
According to Jones, his paintings are created by a reaction toward an initial gesture, the starting point, whether it be a flick of the wrist or a full arm motion. Says Jones, “I never try to paint something [in particular], I just go through the action of painting,” adding that his artwork is a reflection of what is happening in the world, including its happiness, the gray area and its futility.
Alternating between oils and acrylics, the artist uses forms, shapes, lines and colors taken from everyday life to create something so abstract that it seems to jump off the page. Study each painting closely though and eventually your eyes will light up in recognition as hidden objects reveal themselves among the brush strokes.
In “The Whale,” based on a song that Jones composed titled “A Whale in the Sky,” the image of a white sperm whale, inspired by Herman Melville’s novel “Moby-Dick,” is inconspicuously incorporated into the painting, while Jones’ first and favorite piece, “The Inferno,” depicts city buildings that appear to be toppling down into the abyss among the orange and red fiery background. Another piece in the exhibit, “Cab Color,” utilizes the stain of cabernet among vibrant shapes and colors, some of which seem to resemble liquor bottles. One of his newer pieces, “The Tree,” is a bit more straightforward, depicting a tree reaching for the sun. “I’m trying to work toward more representational works,” explains Jones.
Like many artists, Jones finds painting as a way to decompress and to relieve stress. “While I’m organizing my painting, I’ll be thinking about everything that’s going on in my life and try to organize that more also,” he said. While he loves music, Jones says he finds more clarity in painting. “I’m more comfortable with this type of expression,” he explains.
Jones encourages everyone to check out his exhibit, adding that some people may not necessarily like this type of art while others may end up liking it a lot. “Art is something I’m really passionate about and I’ve always had a passion for,” he said, adding, “For the last two years I have disciplined myself enough where I feel like my art is going to grow even more, so I’m excited for people to see this exhibit. It is one of my first milestones and I hope to find success in life through art.”
“Complicating Abstracts” will be on view in the Display Case and Meeting Room at the Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson through Feb. 28. Come meet the artist at an opening reception on Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information on the exhibit, call the library at 631-473-0022. For more information on Robert Jones and his paintings, visit www.artbyrobertjones.com.