November 12 – December 3, 1988
Ronald Jones' exhibition at Metro Pictures from November 12 through December 10 is a precisely conceived installation of seven wall relief and a stack of 300 flat forms all based on the floor plan of a 1930s Berlin building - Columbushaus. This building was considered at the time to be the epitome of function - al Modernist design. The street level facing busy Potsdamer Platz was occupied by a W.F. Woolworth's store while the Nazi S.S. secretly operated its first detention prison on the upper six floors using the building's rear loading entrance.
The seven wall reliefs that take the shape of the Columbushaus floor plan are made of naturally-colored Purple Heart wood on the face and gray harewood along the edges. The reliefs are tilted from the gallery wall, each at a different angle revealing a block print of a Columbushaus prisoner's drawing on the back. Jones has transformed the gallery space by installing a set of columns along the south wall that conform to the existent columns along the north wall so that each relief is placed on the wall between two columns. The toppled stack of plywood forms is in the center of the gallery.
Jones' elegant abstract reliefs are based on a conceptual framework of aesthetic, ethical and political considerations. Just as the functional architecture of Mendelsohn's design became the innocent location of the prototype for more infamous concentration camps, the seemingly neutral abstraction of Jones' exhibition bears reference to deeply tragic events. The artist's past work has similarly used the formal devices of abstraction to reflect on art's relationship to real world issues. In addition to floor plans of politically-charged institutions, he has used the international emblem designating wartime protection of cultural property, a battlefield map of My Lai village, Maritime code warning messages and Vietnam peace conference table designs as the basis for his beautifully executed wall and floor pieces in marble, glass, slate or wood.
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