Ronald Jones' exhibition of new sculptures opens at Metro Pictures on November 23rd thru December 21st. The six new works are the artist's most complexly layered pieces, each comprising a number of disparate elements drawn from well-known art works, controversial archeological artifacts, recent terrorist incidents, space exploration and medical science. The materials, colors, and organization of the parts compose a deceptively handsome abstract construction with seemingly post-modern or "de-constructivist" architectural reference, that belies the disjunctive and socially/politically charged content.
Jones' titles function both traditionally and as explanatory labels reminiscent of museum installations that are part of the physical sculpture itself. For instance: Wet Job (This cabinet, which appears in Salvador Dali's painting, Weaning from the Food Chair, 1934, supports a beam cradling a terra-cotta hermaphrodite sculpture found by 17 year old Emile Fradin in March of 1924 when his cow stumbled into a hole on his grandfather's farm near the hamlet of Glouzel in the Auverne region of France. Dr Morlet, a local surgeon and amateur archaeologist, heard of the discovery and bought the rights to excavate the site and publish his findings. A large number of other artifacts were subsequently uncovered, including urns with facial depictions, bobbins, lamps and clay tablets containing not only the letters from the modern alphabet, but 107 additional symbols. Dr Morlet dated the site from around 8000 BC, and so argued the script was the earliest known in the world. Widely held to be a hoax, three papers delivered in 1975 at the Archaeometry and Archaeological Prospection Symposium at Oxford, contested the authenticity of the "Glouzelian" artifacts on the grounds that the site "contains no single object typical of the very well documented cultures of that region." Pierced by the arm of the beam is the Toshiba "BomBeat" RT-95S radio-cassette player which Marwan Khreesat used to disguise the bomb that exploded aboard the Maid of the Seas, Pan American's flight 103. Khreesat's signature bomb style is known as "two-stop" for his use of two activating devices and one standard electronic detonator which, in the instance of the Pan Am bomb, led to 300 grams of the plastic explosive Semtex. The Czech-made Semtex, code named "medicine" by terrorists, is nearly impossible to detect using conventional security methods. The bomb detonated 38 minutes after Pan Am 103 departed London on December 21st, 1988. Embedded within the radio are 10 mg of Haldol, a neuroleptic drug indicated for use in the management of psychotic disorders, which is the essential prerequisite needed to maintain the competence of convicted murderer and certified schizophrenic Michael Owen Perry. Perry, who killed his mother, father, two cousins and nephew, is a convicted death row inmate in Louisiana awaiting a post-conviction Supreme Court decision on Perry v. Louisiana which will determine if the State of Louisiana can forcibly medicate Perry to thereby render him legally fit for execution. As a result of his mental illness, Perry has a diminished contact with reality and has repeatedly expressed a belief that he is god and that, since the age of seven, has been married to a woman named Susan Bordelon. In addition to hearing voices, Perry's thoughts are sometimes rambling and disorganized; at times he is ambivalent and relates inconsistent information. For instance, he has both denied and admitted on several occasions that he murdered his family. The State's appointed sanity commission concluded, however, that Perry did not suffer from a mental disorder so overwhelming that he was insane or unable to control his actions, and that Perry understood "that if an individual murders somebody, they can be found guilty and then could be executed legally." With regard to Perry's conviction on five counts of first degree murder, the court agreed with the jury's rejection of Perry's mental condition as a deciding factor. Eleven years after young Emile's cow stumbled into the hole on his grandfather's farm, Salvador Dali reflected on his "paranoiac-critical method" of painting in the Conquest of the Irrational: "My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision. — In order that the world of the imagination and of concrete irrationality may be as objectively evident, of the same consistency, of the same durability, of the same persuasive, cognitive and communicable thickness as that of the exterior world of phenomenal reality."), 1991.
Ronald Jones lives in New York and has exhibited his work at Metro Pictures since 1987. Jones has shows scheduled for the coming year at Galerie Faust in Geneva, Linda Cathcart Gallery in Los Angeles, and Texas Gallery in Houston. His work has been included in many museum exhibitions, among them a one-person show at the San Jose Museum of Art in 1990, "A Forest of Signs" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1989, "Mind Over Matter: Concept and Object" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1990 and this year's Spoleto Festival in Charleston. A park designed by the artist has recently opened in downtown Chicago as part of that city's "Sculpture Chicago" program.
Jones is a Critic in Sculpture at Yale University and has written for such journals as Parkett, Zone, Artforum, Flash Art and Artscribe.
This exhibition is in collaboration with Sonnabend Gallery.