Shane Jones

25 Nov - 18 Dec 2010

Read Exhibition Essay

DO I REALLY KNOW…

At first glance I sighed with disappointment. Visiting Shane Jones’ studio I had hoped to see some of the completed works before they were shipped off to the gallery. However, covered in bubble-wrap, I resigned myself to having to ask questions about the works rather than actually seeing them. While I waited for Shane to return I moved closer to the Portrait of Diane hoping to peer through the outer skin to investigate the painting underneath; one often falls for the folly of thinking one has Superman-like x-ray vision. Of course the painting, like many others in the series, was not covered in bubble-wrap. It was quite simply exquisitely painted in the manner of the long artistic tradition, trompe l’oeil. I stood back again and admired the numerous paintings seemingly enveloped in bubble-wrap, stereotypical landscapes appearing on faux television screens and a door from Jones’ studio which I now know will never open.

Shane Jones is one of this country’s foremost trompe l’oeil artists: it has been his modus operandi for many years. He has the ability to transform a humble canvas into a door or a corkboard, a piece of board into a CD or a DVD, the two-dimensional into the three-dimensional. He has the alchemistic hand to change paint into dust, plastic and cloth. He is able to convert the opaque into a dance of light. However, his skill goes beyond merely being able to trick the viewer into believing they are looking at the “real thing”. Rather his use of this long-standing painting tradition is the catalyst for deeper investigation: Jones’ real concern is with the notion that as individuals we know very little about ourselves, let alone others.

As human beings we cloak ourselves in metaphoric bubble-wrap. We may have a small scrap of masking tape attached to us advising who we are but it does little to reveal the full story. Jones’ investigation into this psychological question, however, goes beyond the mere didactic. The numerous television screens in the exhibition capture the Australian inland in all its plasma and LCD glory. For many of us, this landscape, which has become part of the national psyche and narrative, is quite often only known via this digitally mediated experience. Standing in front of these painted televisions, which continue to look like real televisions, Jones challenges us to go beyond the purely aesthetic and to ask Do I really know this landscape? Do I really know myself?

For all his trickery and magicianship, which both delights and frustrates, Jones is generous and humane at heart. He may ask us to look inwards, to ask ourselves the somewhat difficult question who are we really, but he reminds us of the simplicity of the task. A painting of the austere reverse of a picture frame, the central body of the canvas cut away and its hanging wire frayed and fallen, may not seem that interesting. However, it is in the reverse, this hidden and often never seen part, which reminds us of the human element: fingerprints, hand cut edges, personal inscriptions reveal the person beyond the object. Moreover, the missing piece of canvas, this dynamic void, encourages us to explore: to find the missing part of the work, to begin to find ourselves. To do so will be the first step in answering the question Do I really know…

Dr. Vincent Alessi
Artistic Director
LUMA | La Trobe University Museum of Art



artwork Entrance by JONES, Shane

1.  Shane Jones
Entrance 2008
oil on linen
207.5 x 96  cm

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artwork Concealed by JONES, Shane

2.  Shane Jones
Concealed 2009
oil on linen
122 x 84  cm

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artwork Portrait of Diane by JONES, Shane

3.  Shane Jones
Portrait of Diane 2010
oil on linen
102 x 76  cm

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artwork Virtual Light by JONES, Shane

4.  Shane Jones
Virtual Light 2010
oil on linen
76 x 91  cm

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artwork High Definition by JONES, Shane

5.  Shane Jones
High Definition 2010
oil on canvas
76 x 91  cm

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artwork Digital Light by JONES, Shane

6.  Shane Jones
Digital Light 2010
oil on linen
76 x 91  cm

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artwork Digital Landscape by JONES, Shane

7.  Shane Jones
Digital Landscape 2009
oil on linen
76 x 91  cm

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artwork Missing by JONES, Shane

8.  Shane Jones
Missing 2010
oil on canvas
83.5 x 60.5  cm

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artwork Covered Nude by JONES, Shane

9.  Shane Jones
Covered Nude 2010
oil on linen
30 x 40.5  cm

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artwork Portrait of Deborah by JONES, Shane

10.  Shane Jones
Portrait of Deborah 2009
oil on linen
36 x 36  cm

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artwork Website by JONES, Shane

11.  Shane Jones
Website 2010
oil on MDF
23 x 28 x 32.5  cm

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artwork Ready to Print by JONES, Shane

12.  Shane Jones
Ready to Print 2010
oil on MDF
25 x 25  cm

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artwork F for Fake by JONES, Shane

13.  Shane Jones
F for Fake 2010
oil on MDF
19 x 13.5  cm

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artwork Fact or Fiction? by JONES, Shane

14.  Shane Jones
Fact or Fiction? 2010
oil on MDF
19 x 13.5  cm

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artwork Tile by JONES, Shane

15.  Shane Jones
Tile 2009
oil on MDF
15 x 15  cm

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artwork Places Between by JONES, Shane

16.  Shane Jones
Places Between 2009
oil on MDF
12.5 x 14  cm

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