IMN #18 — Trevor Jones
It's Monday Night #18
Tonight, let’s share thoughts about @trevorjonesart’s work: only by mastering the rules to perfection does one become able to destroy them. Trevor Jones destroyed the art of painting. But he saved it too.
Let me elaborate.
A trained eye in art history will recognize a number of figures, motifs and pictorial languages in the work of @trevorjonesart. In a sense, it will feel like home. Trevor Jones' painting is somehow welcoming, warm, hospitable.
It invites the viewer into a polyphonic space where a cubist-inspired mode of representation dialogues with a Bernini sculpture, in a sort of a Tower of Babel 2.0.
I have been exploring @trevorjonesart's gallery for several months now and it functions as an echo chamber or sounding board for me. In each painting, I recognize forms I know; others I had forgotten; others I did not know I knew.
Of course, Trevor Jones is not the first - far from it - to use quoting, collage or "détournement". In a way, one could almost say that Trevor Jones is a painter of the 20th century.
He is an artist crossing different media, mixing genres with casualness or insolence, and addressing his contemporaries in an unstable world.
But the different winks, formal similarities and stylistic effects should not mislead us. @trevorjonesart is our contemporary. He uses "déjà vu" as a tactic, a ruse that allows him to delve into the contradictions of post-modern culture.
The radical transformation of the frames of perception - augmented reality, animation and demystification of the economy - is given as a familiar and slightly touched up image.
@trevorjonesart's approach is not only iconoclastic - the destruction of an icon - or blasphemous - the desecration of a sacred or sacralized figure, it is both more playful and offensive.
The artist appropriates the symbolic magic of economy, art and technology and shows how a fetishistic look operates on these three entities: the coin, the artwork and the virtual.
@trevorjonesart relies on the strength of analytical cubism to fragment what is united and on digital technology to create dynamism in a frozen reality: a myth, a stereotype, a brand.
Thus, @trevorjonesart's painting constructs an apparatus of vision that reveals the symbolic infrastructure of the world and allows to become aware of it.
He exploits the great plasticity of classical painting - it can deform itself at will without ceasing to represent the world - and its power of inclusion - it can absorb heterogeneous forms and reformulate them in its own language.
To this, @trevorjonesart adds the technique of animation which allows him to conceal certain details and to superimpose layers of meaning while giving each work a great iconographic density.
I think @trevorjonesart's animations will go down in art history - in the same way as the triptych, the altarpiece or other ways of presenting the work: the work opens and closes on itself, as if inviting us to decipher it while distracting us from its true discourse.
@trevorjonesart's painting is both aggressive and generous.
He does not fight against technology - blockchain, augmented reality, digital art applications, etc. - but he resists it, while exploring it.
He takes the risk of chaos and plastic dispersion by multiplying mediums and subjects (portrait, symbol, montages, etc.).
@trevorjonesart tries, by his art, to stand at the place of the danger: the one where the disruptive force of the creation risks to be reversed in its opposite - the ideological recovery, the pure and simple commodification.
What emerges is not a clear division by periods, themes, motifs, stylistic unity, but the energy of a creative gesture decided to confront its time.
What interests him is the 3rd image: the one that is born from right connection between 2 images that are far from each other.
He looks for proximity in distance & distance in proximity: the friction or rubbing caused by the impression of a social sign on a myth of art history.
Nothing should have brought Picasso's mandolin & Eth logo together, the same goes for the Bull & Bitcoin.
The vertigo comes from the fact that we don't know what camouflages what: is it the economy that disappears in the artwork or the artwork that melts into a market logic?
@trevorjonesart chooses precisely not to decide: he shows that there is something undecidable there and refuses to produce a new ideology.
Hence the hybrid character of each of his works. It is a question of seizing the economic antagonisms at the level of the artistic form and the contradictions of the process of creation at the level of the technology of blockchain.
First case: the seizure of economic antagonisms at the level of artistic form - Bitcoin Bull or The Ecstasy.
Bitcoin Bull is, in a sense, a surrealist metaphor: Trevor takes stock market terminology (bullish market) literally & uses Picasso's monster as an allegory for Bitcoin.
@trevorjonesart borrows from the bull its formal and cosmological virtualities - massiveness, vigor, impossible to domesticate, potentially fascist - and places it, in profile, in the center of the painting: both threatening and melted into a still setting.
The Ecstasy is based on a brilliant intuition: it reinterprets Bernini's sculpture and hijacks the mystical experience of St. Teresa who is visited here by the Bitcoin Angel.
But this is less a pure parody than a serious take on the trance-like state of speculative souls in the age of cryptocurrencies: an ambivalent mixture of enjoyment and pain, fantasy and materiality, transcendence and pure immanence.
Bernini's sculpture (and architecture) captures and gives a sense of the torments of a soul immersed in the cryptocurrency market.
The second case: the contradictions of the creative process as they are solved or overcome by the blockchain technology.
The main point is the disappearance of the figure of the creator.
It is already several decades since the death of the author was proclaimed (Barthes, Foucault & co): the work of art is not any more the product of a unique genitor but a singularity which combines structures, modes of cooperation, collective intelligence.
@trevorjonesart is an artist who has perfectly taken advantage of the new forms of alliances made possible by new technologies: he deconstructs, in his work, the myth of the author, and takes the side of collaboration - with @money_alotta, @icecube, @muratpak.
@trevorjonesart exploits the networking of creators. For him, creation is not a solitary face-to-face between a creator and an object, it is what exists between different creative processes.
There is, for him, a horizon: an anonymous and infinite process of creation, which would marry the technological, artistic and economic future, in which the artists would have a material and financial autonomy while reinventing unceasingly their own language.
@trevorjonesart's work is a decisive advance in the realization of this utopia.