Kim Jones at Pierogi

Venice High

12 February – 14 March, 2010

Kim Jones’ work will be included in the upcoming 17th Sydney Biennial, The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival In a Precarious Age (Opening May 2010). Jones is a 2009 United States Artist Fellow.

Press Release

Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by Kim Jones. Jones was born in San Bernardino, CA, and his work grew out of the Southern California performance art scene of the 1970s. His contemporaries there were Paul McCarthy and Chris Burden, and he was influenced by the work of artists such as Bruce Nauman and Eva Hesse.

Jones’ work incorporates performance, sculpture, drawing, and painting. He became known early on for his performance persona, “Mudman,” and could be seen walking the streets of Los Angeles and Venice, CA during the 1970s, and then during the 1980s in New York City and New York’s subway system, covered in mud, and wearing on his back a crudely constructed lattice-work structure of sticks, tape, and twine, his face covered with a nylon stocking. Throughout this time he was consistently developing drawings and paintings on paper. His works on paper range from intricate graphite drawings involving “X” and “O” figures and erasure indicating movement of each force (referred to as war drawings), to works that incorporate photography, acrylic paint, ink line work, and collage, many of which have been made over a period of thirty years. Over the years Jones has developed a language of materials and marks: sticks, mud, twine, rats, and “X” and “O” symbols. “Mudman,” and other figures that resemble the performance persona, inhabit his elegant and simultaneously grotesque drawings and paintings.

Time has always been an important element for Jones but in this new body of work he stretches the timeline to its fullest potential within his lifetime, working over drawings he made at the age of fourteen. The tentative hand and line of the 14-year-old shares the page with the experienced line of the same artist some fifty years later. While other artists might choose to jettison or hide away their schoolboy drawings, Jones works to incorporate them into his present-day practice; he neither wishes to discard the past nor let anything go to waste. He seeks at every turn to meld new and old, to connect his line of thinking from, in this instance, 1958 through to 2010. This exhibition will feature a series of drawings and paintings on paper that incorporate these early drawings as well as early performance documentation. It will also feature sculptural works incorporating wigs and acrylic paint. These pieces resemble flattened scalps or skins and integrate Jones’ familiar war drawings. As Jones’ painted war jackets operate as extensions of the body, these wigs are extensions of Jones’ performative vernacular.

“…[D]eparting from the example of Joseph Beuys and other would-be modern shamans, Jones offers no healer’s nostrums, no utopian alternatives to the ongoing strife that both surrounds and emanates from us. In just such times, and we seem never to get beyond them-with the result that the artist’s larger themes are always current, indeed urgent, and never fade as the topical, no matter how searing, inevitably does-Jones’ art counters with authenticity and eccentric grace.” (Robert Storr, Mudman: The Odyssey of Kim Jones, 2007)

Kim Jones is a 2009 recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship. His work was recently included in the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) exhibition, Compass In Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection and will be included in the upcoming 17th Sydney Biennial, The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival In A Precarious Age. He has received fellowships and residencies from ArtPace (San Antonio, TX), the Sirius Art Center (Ireland), the American Academy in Rome and, the Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA). His work has been included in such notable exhibitions as Collage: The Unmonumental Picture at the New Museum (NYC, 2008); the 52nd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (2007); Disparities & Deformations: Our Grotesque, Site Santa Fe (2004), and; Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA and MAK, Vienna (1998). His work was recently the subject of a comprehensive traveling retrospective, Mudman: The Odyssey of Kim Jones.