Abstract Art x Nude Figure Painting.
Erik Jones’ vibrant art, featuring often nude female subjects juxtaposed with abstract shapes and colours, is a sight to behold. The New York based artist uses multiple mediums to merge figure painting and abstract art into his own unique style.
Hello Erik, how are you? Can you tell us where your interest in art first began?
I’m good! I’m not exactly sure when I first became interested in art. To be honest, I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t interested in art. I’ve always been able to communicate better though the arts, whether it be through music or visual arts. My father was a musician so I grew up around live music. I also grew up on cartoons. I suppose cartoons have always been a source of inspiration, even to this day!
Did you always want to be an artist growing up?
I absolutely did! I saw it as a career path but was never quite sure how art could be a career. I originally wanted to be a cartoonist. Then I became interested in structures and felt that architecture could be an option. When I attended art college I quickly realised that figure painting was going to by my primary focus. My painting style was more linear in college, so I gravitated towards comic art and graphic illustration. From there I discovered the world of contemporary art, which is where I strive to be now. And I’m still not sure if it’s a real job, haha!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Alphonse Mucha might be the most influential artist to me. The way he painted the figure and his incorporation of other objects decorating the figure has definitely played a part in developing my ‘style’. My current sources of inspiration seem to always be changing and evolving. At the moment, I’m really interested in fashion photography, toy ads for kids and graphic design. I’ve been interested in removing the direct narrative of ‘ads’, as a public medium promoting a product, to viewing print ads as abstract art. This is something I’m going to peruse, aesthetically.
How would you describe your art and how did you come to this unique style?
The idea of merging nonrepresentational shapes with the figure originated from my love of figure painting and abstract art. When I attended collage I fell in love with both genres of art. Since then I’ve been trying to merge the two together. I started with a figure then slowly started to develop a pattern or decorative shape over the figure to create something abstract but representational. I almost look at it as ‘designer painting’, where the narrative is based around the aesthetic beauty, left to the viewers interpretation.
The huge bursts of colour and shape in your art, at first seemingly random actually look quite thought out. How much time and planning actually goes into these parts of your work?
I have two ways of creating the abstract forms on top of the figures. One way is extremely methodical, where the shapes are drawn out and designed the way an architect would design a building. Every shape, line and color has a purpose. The other way I create the shapes is a process of experimentation. No plans, I just throw a bunch of paint on the canvas and see what happens. This process is fun but there is a much better chance of ‘ruining’ the painting this way, which happens probably 50% of the time.
The women in your work offer the viewer some relief from the organised chaos. Who are these women? What do you think they are thinking as they peek through the array of shapes and colours?
Most of the models I paint are people I find on social media. So a majority of them are fans of the work! I really enjoy the collaborative experience of working with models that are super jazzed about being apart of the art. While creating a painting using a model, I actually try not to project a narrative on to the viewer. I’d rather the work be completely subjective. The context in which the painting is being viewed should dictate the relevance of the art to the viewer.
What does the female form mean to you and how do you look to represent this in your art?
Ha yes, I clearly enjoy painting the female form. This is something I ask myself all the time. “Why the female form..?”. I’m sure my proclivity to paint the ‘fairer sex’ stems from my adolescence. I used to sketch the scantily clad ladies that appeared in the pages of my fathers collection of vintage ‘gentleman magazines’ when I was growing up. For the past few years I set out to diminish the over sexualization of the figures in the work. I did this by painting models that were a little less curvy and more inspired by ‘fashion models’. I’m not sure how successful I was but that was the intention. I’m about to start a new series based on the ridiculousness of sex in selling products. So my previous attempts to stay classy are going out the window with this new work. This work will also include men. More to come on that soon!
Besides painting, are there any other creative avenues you’d like to explore in the future?
Music is my other passion. I’ve been playing drums for a little over 20 years. It’s become more of a source of relaxation for me, a meditative experience. Music in general plays a large part in my creative experience. Every part of my process is accompanied by a specific type of music, whether it’s photographing a model, sketching or putting the finishing touches on a painting. My studio work days always have a soundtrack.
Last question, if you weren’t an artist what would be your dream job?