NAIVE AND SENTIMENTAL PAINTING
8 February – 9 March2018
The Eagle Gallery is delighted to be holding our first solo exhibition with the London based painter Peter Ashton Jones. Co-founder of Turps Banana magazine and curator of a number of notable exhibitions for the Nunnery and Lion and Lamb galleries, Ashton Jones’s practice is deeply informed by contemporary debates around painting, yet retains a clear engagement with art of the past. Breughel’s Hunters in the Snow, with its humanistic incidents laid out in almost diagrammatic form, is a central motif amongst the many visual references that abound in Ashton Jones’s rich and eloquent paintings.
Naïve and Sentimental Painting is titled after a composition by the American post-minimalist composer John Adams, who premiered his work Naive and Sentimental Music in 1999. Adams’s piece was a response to his interest in Friedrich Schiller’s essay, On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry (1795).
Adams suggests that for the naïve artist, art is a natural form of expression, whereas the sentimental artist is self-aware and tries to find the lost unity of the naïve – “he is essentially a searcher”. In the notes for the premier of Naïve and Sentimental Music, Adams stated: ‘‘Like all dichotomies Schiller’s can be taken too far and become strained, even ridiculous. But as a novel way of looking at artistic behavior and at the creative process his distinction is a provocative one”.
Ashton Jones’s subject matter is deceptively simple, and highly subjective. Many of the images describe the environment of the artist’s studio, or – if they venture into plein air – are the landscapes of a British childhood – muted in colour and mist filled.
As Dan Coombs describes in a catalogue text published for the exhibition:
“The quality of the paintings lies in their internal dialectics; between picture and painting, inside and outside, the imaginary and the real, hard edge and soft edge. It’s out of this ambiguous internal space that the paintings are effectively carved. The aim is to make something that feels as dense as reality, something that imprints itself on the memory as a real thing, something that sticks.”