Locust Jones | Brainfog
22.04.15 to 23.05.15
There is a consistency to the work of Locust Jones that has a distinctly modernist ring to it. He’s an artist who operates around the idea of a signature style. Take for instance his chosen mode of image making, the drawn line. The lines that have been extending themselves out across the surface of his drawings for many years now have remained stubbornly clumsy. Even after all this time they retain a signature rawness. As some who’s long admired his work I’ve often wandered at this; been curious about the pains he’s taken to preserve this rudimentary look. It’s as if one part of his identity as an artist has been forged by the scrupulous suppression of technical virtuosity; a deliberate blocking of skills that surreptitiously attach themselves to action we perform on a daily basis. Because Locust is someone who has been making lines on an almost daily basis for many years.
Locust’s interest in a continuity of process is not the only thing that embeds his art in daily routine. His primary source of inspiration – the daily news – also points unequivocally in this direction. There are two aspects of Locust’s practice that have remained consistent for many years. One is the rudimentary nature of his mark making and the other is the fragmentary scraps of daily news that make their way into his work. Yes, there are other ideas and information streams feeding into the mix; but it is material gleaned from his daily sampling of various news sources that dominates the tone and content of his practice.
The fragments of news inserted into Locust’s work are clearly intended to trigger political and moral emotions. They are ciphers that lead us back into the narratives of death and destruction we have grown used to encountering in everyday news; the meta-narratives of middle eastern conflict, global financial crisis and climate change. The years have come and gone and these serialised catastrophes still have no end in sight. On and on they go, like the paper scrolls of his drawings, providing an endless array of material for his work. Locust’s drawings seem to follow them involuntarily, as if tethered to their dismal progress by the same combination of routine and disturbed fascination that underwrites our daily viewing habits. His work is almost as much about repetition as it is about moral distress and political outrage. About the dulling down of feeling that comes with routine.
For me these news fragments are critical; they are what make his work contemporary. They shift it into the present and mark it off from a set of earlier traditions that also cultivated rawness of gesture; expressionism, abstract expressionism and neo-expressionism. The presence of contemporary news stories helps prevent Locust’s work from becoming overly entangled in notions of authenticity; a reading that his expressionistic style and emotive subject might otherwise attract. The news is a foil.
Justin Trendall, Sydney, 2015