Painting Moonee Beach


As a painter celebrated for his figurative portraits, Alan Jones recently stepped out from the depths of his warehouse studio and into the open air to tackle the longstanding tradition of landscape.

Alongside 14 other artists, Jones travelled to Moonee Beach, a small town north of Coffs Harbour, where he painted en plein air for nine days straight.

The result is a series of small-scale collages titled: Time and Place: Recent Collage, showing at Olsen Irwin Gallery in Sydney.

This is the first series of works by Jones that take on a more stripped-back approach by using only two mediums: plywood and acrylic paint. “I really wanted to bring that fresh, raw feel of the en plein air back into my studio,” Jones says. To achieve this feeling, Jones diluted his acrylic palette to behave more like water-colour. He also applied the technique of collage, cutting and slicing unprimed pieces of plywood into isolated shapes and forms. “It’s extremely difficult to get all the elements complementing each other at the same time while simultaneously creating surface tension,” Jones explains. “If you can do that you’ve probably made a good painting. Then you just need the wisdom to know it’s time to stop.” By experimenting with the devices of collage, these layered painted blocks of colour transform into landscapes depicting the raw, crisp coastline of the South Pacific Ocean.

These intimate collages offer a significantly different experience from the specificities of portraiture. Jones’s open-ended approach to his subject matter is a refreshing departure point, turning landscape inwards and away from notions of place, into a viewer’s own experience.

Time and Place: Recent Collage
Alan Jones
Olsen Irwin Gallery
2 November – 20 November

Preview Words by Chelsea Hopper