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Spliced Structure

Spliced Structure
signed and dated ‘RACHEL JONES ‘19’ (on the overlap)
oil, oilstick and oil pastel on canvas
92 1/2 x 82 2/3in. (240 x 210cm.)
Executed in 2019
The Sunday Painter, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, RA Schools Show, 2019.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: pcandauctionteam@momart.co.uk.

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Lot Essay

Created in 2019, and included that year in the artist’s graduate exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, Spliced Structure is a thrilling large-scale work that exemplifies Rachel Jones’ vividly expressive language of colour, texture and abstract form. The artist uses oil pastel and oilstick with improvisatory verve, building a patchwork of brilliant chromatic drama. Broad swathes of magenta, pink, crimson, acid green and cobalt blue contend with hatched black thickets and shimmering flares of light, clashing and flashing across the 2.5-metre-high canvas. Jones’ mark-making is organic and free, by turns diaphanous and densely worked; passages of chalkier pastel contrast with the liquid, waxy sheen of the oilstick, which heats up and becomes slick with the friction of use. What looks like a dog’s face, outlined in electric yellows and with a lolling pink tongue, stares out from the centre of the picture. Elsewhere, the variegated hues conspire to resemble a dreamlike landscape: mountainous terrain, a neon sunset, a coral reef saturated with life. Through this dynamic topography, Jones explores her own interior world and identity as a black woman, presenting the canvas as a somatic field charged with the sensations of body and mind alike.

Born in London in 1990, Jones studied at the Glasgow School of Art before completing her masters at the Royal Academy in 2019. She has since risen to international acclaim, with her works now held in the collections of the collections of The Tate, Arts Council England, the Hepworth Wakefield, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. She works in series, building a vocabulary of associative, even familial relationships between her pictures. Many feature mouths or teeth, evoking a symbolic entry point to the internal narratives that animate their surfaces. These motifs were central in her debut institutional show say cheeeeese, which ran from March to June 2022 at London’s Chisenhale Gallery, as well as in her monumental canvas lick your teeth, they so clutch (2021), a highlight of the Hayward Gallery’s 2021 exhibition Mixing It Up: Painting Today. The present work stems from a group that share the title Spliced Structure, many of which incorporate sharp divisions of line or colour, like fused diptychs or images stitched together. The works’ sense of hybridity applies equally to their liminal place between abstraction and figuration, and between painting and drawing. While she values oilstick and pastel for their rich pigments and immediacy of application, Jones is also attracted to their closeness to oil paint—they are made of the same substance—and enjoys letting her works shift between graphic and painterly registers, neither one thing nor the other.

Jones views abstraction itself as a similarly unfixed arena, taking equal inspiration from Abstract Expressionism and the exaggerated, transportive visuals of cartoons, which share a power to transcend the time and space of day-to-day life. ‘Those sorts of viewing experiences really helped me understand that you can use colour and shape and form to speak to people in a way that isn’t about a spoken language—it’s about emotion and inciting feelings that don’t have to be explained or expressed’, she explains. ‘It’s responsive, it’s instinctive, and a core part of all of us’ (R. Jones, quoted in L. Buck, ‘Teeth, lips, flowers: rising star Rachel Jones on her latest works and how she prioritises a Black audience’, The Art Newspaper, 7 December 2021). Spliced Structure appeals directly to this fundamental desire for connection, inviting the viewer into a visceral, visual wonderland of the self.

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