CARL HAMMER GALLERY

740 North Wells Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654 312.266.8512  fax 312.266.8510

info@carlhammergallery.com

FRANKJONES

Untitled

c. 1960

ColoredPencilonPaper

17 x 211/2 inches

FJ22

JapHouse54

c. 1964

ColoredPencilonPaper

26 x 40

FJ27

FRANKJONES

Thecomplexcolored-pencillinedrawingsofFrankJones, arethebrilliantlycreativeby-productofatroubledlife. Inthesedrawings, Jonesdevelopedanendlessyetmesmerizingpatternrenderinghighlystylized, architectural, two-dimensionalstructures. Theobsessive-compulsivelinesofthesebuildingswereorchestratedwithoutsymmetricalpredictability. Everyexteriorandinteriorwallwasanelaboratelyembellishedline(hepreferredworkingwiththecontrastingcolorsofblueandred, andonoccasion, heintroducedthecolorgreen). Inanumberofhisuniqueconstructs, Joneswouldincludeaclock. Morefascinatingthanthepurelyimaginativelinessegmentingthehouse-likestructures, however, aretheinclusionofstrangelycute, smilingcreaturesresemblingcartoonbugstowhichhegavethelabelof“haints”. “Haints”(also“wingeddevils”, “grand-daddy”, and“Humpty-Dumptydevils”)werenothingmorethanyourcommon, everydaygardenvarietyofevilspiritswhichcometovisityouandmessupyourdaywhenyouleastexpectittohappen. Theseincrediblyinventiveyetcharminglookingentitieswerecontrollable, accordingtoJones, bycapturingthemandputtingtheminhis“houses”. There, theywouldnothavethepoweroverapersonthattheymightnormallyhave. Thoughplayfulinappearancetotheoutsideworld, the“haints”whichoccupytheinteriorsofJones’rooms, werethesymbolicalrepresentationofthehavocwhichmusthaverackedtheinnermostfabricoftheartist’ssenseofwell-being.

FrankJonessignedeachofhisdrawings, notwithhisname, butwithhisprisonnumber, 114591. Borntoparentswhobothabandonedhimatanearlyage, thathehadacauloveroneeyeduringhisbirth, givesadditionalsignificancetohisabilityto“see”ortointerprettheintentionsofthespirit-filledworldlaterinhishardluckpronedlife. Withoutanyformaleducation, hewentontoworkinaseriesofmakeshiftjobsthroughoutyoungadulthoodandeventuallybecamethe“victim”ofunfortunatecircumstantialcriminalchargesforwhichhewasimprisonedtherestofhislife. ItwasinprisonthatJonesbelievedhewasvisitednightlybytheghosts(“haints”)whichinhabithisdrawings.

FrankJones’drawingsarefarmorethantheproductofanaïveoraninnocentuneducatedpersonscribblingonpiecesofpaperformereentertainment. Theyarethedramaticresultofaparticularlyinsightfultalentwhich, becauseoftheirinvention, givestheviewingpublic, whooftencannotseebeyondthevisualrepresentationofhousesandfriendlycartooncharacters, theopportunitytoexaminethe“demons”whichhauntand, indeed, shapethenatureofwhoweareandarekepthoused…. deepinside.

 

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