A playful balance: Surrealism and realism

A new exhibition by Auckland artist Ross Jones opened this week at Parnell Gallery. A fusion of playful realism incorporating elements of the surreal, each meticulously devised painting offers hints at various narratives.

69 Line Honours, 2021

Ross Jones’ finely detailed works evoke a heady sense of nostalgia and elevated playfulness. Each painting has been conceptualised through the religious use of his sketchbook, drawing on a personal bank of photographs, objects, vintage toys, and memories collected since the artist was a boy. Immortalising his selected subjects through the act of painting, Jones’ indulgence in nostalgia is so easily shared as we find ourselves connected and lit up by a familiar object, a childhood memory, a scene, or even a time of day so faithfully depicted in his worlds that exude a balanced sense of whimsical reminiscence and intellectual musing. 

Jones is a story teller of sorts, an artist whose work has captured the imagination of many. Currently, he’s finishing his 75th painting, which will be the final piece for the upcoming Parnell Gallery exhibition, but his goal is to paint 25 more over the next six years to complete 100 works that together will be published in a book cataloguing the journey to date. 

71 The Captain, 2021

“My paintings are all about telling stories. They are a mixture of seemingly perfect places and events, but like all good stories not everything is as it seems. Shadows create just enough intrigue to tip the balance between the serene or mysterious scene.”

Working in oil on fine portrait linen, Ross creates large and mid-scale works known for their meticulously detailed bright and vivid scenes that connect with playful notions of juxtaposition and nostalgia.

Ross paints from his studio north of Auckland with the Hauraki Gulf literally lapping at his back door. Here, his tools and supplies are all laid out in their purposeful place. Around them, books, tin toys, lead soldiers and anything else that triggers his imagination also has its place.

66 Your Turn, 2020

The upcoming exhibition, on show from 8-22 November 2022 at Parnell Gallery, marks his third show with the gallery, where he exclusively exhibits biannually while showing works at selected galleries around New Zealand.

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