‘Alan Jones, ‘Wyalkatchem” by Danielle Marsland
Kindergarten kids are always inevitably given the task of painting a picture of their family. If the results are sufficient, the painting is slapped straight onto the fridge and everyone laughs at how Dad has really long purple arms. But then there are those paintings of a more cryptic-come-frighteningly concerning ilk: (what does it mean that you painted your nice brother as a hairy monster?).
Award-winning Sydney artist Alan Jones has painted his family members multiple times over the years as part of his ongoing exploration into identity and personal heritage; his work plays into that imaginative, illogical mayhem of the childhood mind, the developmental process of perception of the self and others. In Jones’ 2007 exhibition Paintings from Windsor: ‘Painting 71 (Dad)’ is a stern, stripy bust rendered in thick, sparing, hot pink lines. In 2010s The Sharing Family, ‘Uncle Pat’ is scarecrow-esque, a frenzied amalgamation of black, sketch-like brushstrokes. 2011’s ‘That’s The Way It Is’ shows us ‘Alan’ himself, staring out behind a net of impasto.
Now, Venn Gallery presents Wyalkatchem, an exhibition incorporating both painting and sculptural works, based on a road trip Jones and his Dad took to Wyalkatchem in Western Australia where Jones grew up. This time, ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ are visually much softer: in mottled, cloudy blacks. Although the series of tiny, severed, oil-tubed heads floating around each of them is concerning…
Danielle Marsland, ‘Alan Jones, ‘Wyalkatchem’’’, http://thethousands.com.au/perth/, 17 November 2011.