Awkward Beauty: The Art of Lucy Jones

Image of Awkward Beauty: The Art of Lucy Jones
Release Date: 
September 10, 2019
Laurence King Publishing
Reviewed by: 

“Lucy Jones has earned a place of distinction among contemporary expressionist visionaries.”

Awkward Beauty: The Art of Lucy Jones is a compilation of striking works produced over 25 years by a wonderfully talented but not widely recognized British expressionist artist.

Lucy Jones’ story is compelling. She has endured the effects of dyslexia and Cerebral Palsy for much of her life.  Learning Ms. Jones’ story alters one’s view of people with “disabilities” as limited. The works in Awkward Beauty are a testament to the artist’s strength and ability and represent the unfolding narrative of her creative feats. In her passion to create, the artist developed workable methods that enable her to circumvent encumbering attributes. Overall, Lucy Jones views herself and her methods as empowering, as well as a source of creative inspiration.

“If I did not have cerebral palsy and dyslexia, I would not have explored the ideas I have—they both play a part. As for physical constraint, I can only say I think they have added to my painting, making my work direct—my work is not slick and I struggle to resolve my paintings.”

Acceptance in the art world has been a long time coming for Lucy Jones. She attributed the hesitancy in signing her on the part of gallery owners to the clumsy physical manifestations of cerebral palsy which render her “wobbly” and dependent on a walker. This year, however, marks a turning point for Lucy Jones as she is now affiliated with the Flowers Gallery and has two exhibitions opening in the UK.

Awkward Beauty features 100 color plates that represent a wide-ranging collection of landscapes and portraits. The self-portraits explore “the awkwardness and ambivalence” of looking and moving differently. The portraits do often prominently depict her walking apparatus almost as if it were an appendage. She portrays herself honestly in ungainly poses that highlight how cerebral palsy has distorted her body and hands and rendered her facial expression askew. The titles she chooses are also telling; With a Handicap Like Yours or Hand Movement. Rather than shrink from her infirmity, she openly celebrates it.

Lucy Jones is a talented colorist. Her skill is particularly notable in the landscape works that are quite large, boldly colored, vibrant, energetically painted, expansively composed, and abstracted to a point but not enough to hinder their representative quality. Startlingly beautiful, these pieces convey the panorama before her and, unlike the self-portraits, they do not contain any reference to her physical issues.

“The landscape gives me a freedom of mind, air and space, exactly opposite to painting myself or portraits. I need to be outside to live, to think and just be.”

One’s appreciation for the artist does increase exponentially upon considering the methods she must depend on to fulfill her creative vision. Her balance is fragile so she must employ a support mechanism/trolley that supports her movement across a large canvas. She also paints on the floor on hands and knees because, as she put it, “it’s less far to fall.”

Lucy Jones is an exceptional artist. The challenges she faces enhance her work and amplify one’s appreciation for her grit and creative drive. This should in no way box her into a category. Lucy Jones has earned a place of distinction among contemporary expressionist visionaries.