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Janet Jones’s Latest Canvases Pack Spatial Punch

Katzman Kamen Gallery, Toronto September 13 to October 13, 2012

York University professor Janet Jones is the maker of stately abstract paintings driven by interests in sheen, stacked layers and intersecting transparencies. Over the past decade, her painting has turned more and more to evoking references to film both experimental and narrative, as if the touchstone was a matter of watching of Fritz Lang’s M through a refracting prism. Her new show, “Joyride,” continues on this tack, with many of the paintings suggesting an allegiance with the wet night city scenes from film noir.

“Joyride,” however, also plunges into new territory. Five small paintings from a series called Hypno-Merge into Dazzle Days take commanding control. Measuring 18 inches square, each of the pictures packs a lot of spatial punch, with tapering ellipses of white lights on grey fields mixing with coloured vortexes of gradated values on brightly painted backgrounds. The edges of the paintings are also painted with bright, supersaturated, contrasting colours. The net effect is a set of paintings that vibrate on the wall with blushing reflected light spill while holding tension, inside, with images that spin into deep vertigo. Joyride, indeed.

Yet, while graphic and fun, the paintings suggest some deep thinking about the effects of the increasingly integrated fusion of representational space into abstract practice. All space is hybrid space at this point, caught up in a flux of preplanned rationality interacting with partial, passing perception. Jones has found a way to compress the discontinuities into paintings that are reassuringly stable in their instabilities. She is showing us the prevailing norm for social and psychic space.

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