Acrylic on 300gsm hahnemuhle satine paper
Hive Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Natisa Jones in China, “To Become A Volcano”, to be held on October 27, 2022 in Hall B and C. The exhibition presents Jones’ creative journey in recent years around her latest paintings. The exhibition is curated by Yu Fei, curator of the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, and will run until December 15, 2022.
Natisa Jones (b.1989) grew up in Indonesia, the country of islands where volcanoes define the exterior environment and intrinsic order. Of both Indonesian and Canadian descent, she was born in Java and raised in Bali. The region’s complicated colonial history and religious heritage provide a more diverse and open cultural landscape than one might expect. With hundreds of ethnic groups and dialects around her and the intrinsic bi-cultural background, Jones has never been confined to a fixed identity or place of origin. Later, her studies and travels would lead her all the way to Amsterdam, Netherlands, where she settles down for now.
To any ancient civilization, the worship of colossi and nature is nothing less than rare. Volcanoes, for Jones, have extremely personal and special implication grounded in national identity, burying the seeds of a covert connection between lives early on in her mind. The idea of the volcano has gradually occupied her paintings before she could realize it: first as a distant background to the figure, then as the primary subject within the small canvas—sometimes so close that it’s almost at hand, sometimes so far it’s out of reach. Until recently, when Jones began to place herself in the distant presence of a volcano from her homeland, her perspective shifted with her physical, nomadic experience, and a new subject thus emerged. In her latest series, Volcano Girls, the paintings never really seem static, like a surging force of primordial life cannot be restrained: the bare, coarse canvas, some of the paint poured out suddenly is aggregated into figures, some pieced into language. The woman’s body becomes one with the volcano piled with white paint, her limbs completely interiorized, leaving only her face and chest wide open like windows. The texts are now an act of absolute physicality, an impulsive, spontaneous muttering and declaration, self-expressing while constantly shaping a new body. These bodies are not isolated but rooted downward, deeper and broader until they are connected to a matrix of nature. Painting indeed serves as a parallel channel for the internalized digestion of the exterior world and the external manifestation of the immanent world. The volcano, as the embodiment of unknown forces from the outside world, is something to be dreaded and yearned for simultaneously. As such, Jones commits herself to this inner cycle of life, allowing them to become each other in a spiritual dimension created by painting.
Painting certainly establishes a mirrored space in contrast to Jones’ self. The figures in her work, along with her own, grow and transform discreetly in their dimension of time. In her earlier works, the figures occasionally appear as men when she was documenting and imagining the other sex in an intimate relationship as an observer. Later, more gender-neutral and even androgynous figures dominate the paintings, and underlying is her more active construction of increasingly complex, unstable, and shifting subjects. Meanwhile, Jones is aware that her perception and comprehension of her gender as a woman are intricately and subconsciously constructed. There is a significant disparity between the standardized, refined, and uniform feminine aesthetics and her perception. These days, in her practice, Jones becomes increasingly focused on herself, and more figures she creates are derived from accumulated daily self-observation, which is the most personal, the most authentic, and the last fortification for her as an artist. The true universality is abstract and ineffable, and its origin always returns to the discussion of the specification. Roland Barthes emphasized, “my body is not the same as yours”, which should be the foundation and consensus of any communication. The vast array of self-images that Jones has projected in her works today is not just a diary of self-representation but more of an essential foundation for a sincere dialogue with others that transcends identity and gender.