As the British pop artist Allen Jones celebrates his 70th-birthday year, he has an exhibition of new work at Alan Cristea Gallery running concurrently with shows at Tate Britain and the Royal Academy.
Famous for his erotic sculptures, like Chair, Table and Hatstand, Jones this time has created a series of oil paintings of a magician and his female assistant. “The painting of dual figures meshed together has been the subject of my painting for most of my life,” he says. “The painting itself is a performance. It is an excuse for me to go on painting figures interacting that in the past that have included a pianist and performer and tightrope walkers.”
Graphic work that he has created in the last year includes wood engravings made in Beijing and lithographs made in Santa Fe, America. The wood engravings for Letters, a boxed set of 12 woodblocks, are inspired by his monument steel and stone sculpture, Banquet, created in 2006 for the Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Parkin China, of three dancing figures on a platform.
“I explore the possibility that the three dancers in silhouette against the sky are reminiscent of Chinese writing,” he says.
The lithograph series Between the Sheets is of dancing couples, individually titled as Intro, Jump, Trip, Move, Slip, Grip, and Yours. “Between The Sheets is an accurate title because the seven works are in a box with printed paper, one on top of the other,” Jones says. There is also a new large silkscreen print produced asatriptych, in which Jones revisits the theme of the relationship between the catwalk and the audience.
“I usually have half a dozen exhibitions a year,” says Jones. “It is unusual to have three at once but for anybody interested in this artist, this is a range of work in depth.”
Allen Jones At Seventy, Alan Cristea Gallery, London W1 (020-7439 1866); his work also appears at Tate Britain, London SW1 (020-7887 8888) to 10 February; and at the Royal Academy, London W1 (0870 848 8484) to 17 February