Allen Jones at Royal Academy of Arts

Well there is certainly a lot that could be said about Jones’ exhibition, and it’s by no means all disapproving. I visited his latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts recently, and on entering the first room we were greeted with two tables, the glass surfaces of which were held up by models of two women on all fours in degrading, provocative outfits. These of course make up the well-known piece ‘Table’ (1969), and I can completely understand how these pieces of furniture have caused controversy in the past. The domestication and objectification of women here is quite sickening in my opinion as it aggressively enforces the idea that women are or should be subservient. The other sculptures later in the exhibition show the same disregard for the women as actual people, as again they are in horrifically demeaning fetish outfits, some used as pieces of furniture, others simply posed in mid-walk. There is something in the expression of the faces of some of the women where they appear to feel humiliated – whether this is intentional or not, I cannot say.

In addition to the detail and accuracy of the expression held in the women’s faces, I found it quite impressive how realistic the figures were and how well Jones has captured other little details of the human form like muscle tone. Especially with the models that appear to be in motion, Jones uses colour in a way that accentuates these features and boasts the beauty of the female figure. These sculptures are immersed in an explosion of colour extending from the walls they are positioned to be walking away from.

Similarly, Jones utilises the treatment of colour in his pop-art paintings so that it completely compels the attention of the viewer. These paintings do display Jones’ notorious obsession with the perfectly proportionate female figure as well as erotica, however these paintings seem to me to be much more creatively artistic. From within the vibrant, popping colours, the sensual figures are insinuated but rarely fully defined. I was particularly captured by Jones’ paintings of couples dancing; each of these displays a fusion of intimacy that has been formed through the dance. The confluence of the two bodies as well as punches of colour give these compositions a subtly applied sense of sensuality, contrasting with Jones’ other more explicit pieces of work.

After all that has been said, it is quite evident that Allen Jones is a very talented artist; his use of colour and composition is stimulating and decided which is something I admire. With a great varied collection of works from different mediums over the years, the exhibition was an engaging and thought-provoking one to visit.

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