In the Los Angeles artist Ben Jones’s new solo show, at the Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, large-scale Day-Glo paintings flash hypnotically, overlaid with digital projections of geometric patterns, tunnels of color, and cartoon eyes. There are fluorescent cut-outs of ladders that look ready to melt right off the walls on which they’re mounted. To the sober eye, the constant motion creates a psychedelic visual feast.
This effect owes a debt to Jones’ other calling as an animator, both of late-night cartoons on Fox and on music videos for the likes of Beck and MIA. (He’s also worked with Miley Cyrus, on the set design for her Bangerz tour.) His combining of disciplines, animator and artist, is what gave rise, in 2012, to a medium he calls “video paintings.” (“I think I coined the term,” Jones muses. “Kind of a dumb name.”) Onto an old-school surface of acrylic paint on canvas, mostly in fluorescent shades that emulate the glow of a screen, Jones projects a layer of animation that activates a certain hallucinatory quality of the work. “Seeing them on top of each other highlights all of their coincidences and tangents,” he says. The initial breakthrough came about by a happy accident years ago, when a friend happened to point a projector in the direction of one of Jones’s stand-alone paintings.
At Ace, he’s expanded the notion of video paintings: there are larger-scale “cinema paintings,” at 12 feet high and 24 feet wide, and “T.V. paintings,” geometric wooden cutouts backlit by the actual flatscreen TVs on which they’re mounted. Jones also uses animation software to give the ladder sculptures their illusion of meltiness, and for the pixelated, 8-bit dogs that populate the show. The results evoke, at once, ’60s Color-Minimalism, Spongebob, and early video games. Never did we assume they would all get along so well.
“Ben Jones” runs through September at L.A.’s Ace Gallery, 9430 Wilshire Blvd.