|‘Connected’, acrylic on canvas, 2022, Ben F Jones|
198 Contemporary Arts & Learning presents:
The Bigger Picture
An exhibition by Ben F. Jones
10 Sept – 23 Oct 2022
Private View | 9 Sept from 6:30pm
Artist Tour Exhibition | 23 Sept from 6pm
Ben F. Jones in Conversation with Paul Goodwin | 14 Oct from 6pm
‘My art has principally focused on African spirituality, humanism and politics. Over the past five years, I have begun to focus on the intersection of these areas with global warming, racism, capitalism and human relationships. (…) Through this work, I hope to raise consciousness and provoke reflection that can be channelled into action’. Ben F. Jones, 2017
198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in London is thrilled to welcome the acclaimed artist and professor Ben F. Jones back to the gallery with a new exhibition ‘Ben Jones: The Bigger Picture’. The Bigger Picture takes place 28 years after Jones’ inaugural UK show at the 198 Gallery in 1994, curated by Hassan Aliyu.
At a time when narrow, nationalist movements and partial, partisan perspectives are expanding dangerously, Ben Jones’s work invites us to open up our cultural horizons to see the complexities and beauty of our world in a broader frame. The Bigger Picture extends the artist’s long-standing exploration of the connections and relationships between the multiple, challenging issues we face as a global community. Through paintings, wallpaper, installations and digital formats, The Bigger Picture maps the disruptions that are happening in our world, inviting the viewer to engage with the interconnecting issues that confront our planet and humanity.
The exhibition charts an evolution of themes and subjects in the artist’s work ranging from critical responses to Black Lives Matter and the ongoing global climate crisis to more recent concerns about the impact of technology in fostering transcultural and intergenerational connections and disruptions in our lives. Trayvon Martin Wallpaper (What’s going on?) 2016, for example, illustrates Jones’ critique of anti-black violence and police brutality through a vast collaged installation of multiple media-based images of the young Black teenager murdered by a security guard, juxtaposed with African spiritual Adinkra and Yoruba symbols as well as the Nazi swastika. Intersections and Meta-verse (2020) are two more recent works depicting the impact of new technologies. These works join together in relation to the elements of spirituality, cowrie shells, water, the colours of black nationalism, mobile phones, the power grid and the planets of the universe using painting and collage. Referring to another recent work, What Do You Value?, the artist perfectly articulates the urgent questions this exhibition is boldly attempting to address in a challenge to the viewer:
“I am asking what is it in life that you value? Do you value technology, the fish symbolizing life, solar energy, nature, Trayvon Martin, liberty or even death? They are all there together and they have connections. They represent The Big Picture.”
The Big Picture is curated by Hassan Aliyu, Makeda Coaston and Paul Goodwin with Francine Mabondo of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.
About the artist
Ben F. Jones was born in New Jersey in 1941. He received an MFA from Pratt University (Brooklyn, NY), MA from New York University (New York, NY) and BFA from William Paterson University (Wayne, NJ). Jones has made over fifty cultural exchange visits to Cuba since the nineteen-seventies, and is noted by the Granma International of Havana, Cuba as one of the most important African-American artists of his generation. For over four decades, Jones’ multimedia installations have reflected his travel and research in Africa, Europe, South America, United States and the Caribbean. Jones has lectured at universities, museums and cultural institutions across the world including, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Howard University (Washington, DC), Savanah College of Art and Design (Savanah, GA), Wilfredo Lam Center (Havana, Cuba) and the University of Ghana (Accra, Ghana).