Jonathan goes figural, black ‘n’ white
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
AFTER exploring landscape and streetscape themes for the greater part of his career, the pastel artist Jefferson Jonathan has gone figural, probing into man’s sub-consciousness.
Having established himself as an artist whose strength lies in the representational art, using bright colours in photo-finish rendition, Jefferson made a surprise showing with works that contrasted the scene in his recent show titled, State of Inertia, at the Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Though still representational, the colours were conspicuously missing, making the tungsten lightings less exciting on an all black and white show.
However, in the artist’s expressive skill, especially in close-ups, showed the other side of man’s dormancy, bringing out different shades of moods.
From natural expression such as sleeping to pensive moods and agonies, Jefferson gives his audience opportunity to see through this creative mirror, how man’s sub-conscious state exposes the weakness of the soul.
|Jefferson Jonathan's pastel work (2011)|
For example, with Baba Doris, National Call, Exposed and Night Duty, the show appears the most appropriate place to relay images of tiredness and dozing at workplace — almost everyone captured by the artist dozes also leads to a visitor’s curiosity on his state of mind, particularly, when he chose black and white for a subject that peeps into people’s psyche.
He says, “the concept is tied to life, entangled in emotion, sub-consciousness and of course, the physical.”
He, however, notes that images such as these are reflections of how the soul is cleansed, especially in a society full of distress.
And just when there is an argument as to whether the images are signs of ineptitude, Jefferson offers. “Tears, for example, are antidote for cleansing, not necessarily a sign of weakness. It’s the same reason we have tears of joy.”
Suffice it to say that an all black and white show appears like a risky leap, particularly at this period of cautious behaviour of art collectors. He insists that it’s about his art, first and foremost. Great artists, he notes, “at certain period, take such risk.”
He stresses that taking a break from landscape brings more challenge, as he has not done any serious figurative works for a very long time. And like most great masters who marked periods of their career, either in particular colour schemes, images, techniques or style, it does appear that Jefferson is beginning his own period, in figurative. “It’s another way to strengthen my drawing skills. As I progress there will be more of figurative works.”
FOR an artist who has been stuck to pastel for a very long period in his career, it’s not likely that his figurative period could give way to another medium.
Consistency in the pastel medium has earned Jefferson several participations in the yearly Pastel Show organised by Mydrim Gallery. In fact, he had exhibited alongside Kolade Oshinowo, Biodun Olaku, Olu Ajayi, Sam Ovraiti and Duke Asidere.
One of his works that will remain in memory of art enthusiasts for a long time is a depiction of the drastic change brought to the Lagos Central Business District, in 2006, at the CMS end of Broad Street, titled Broad Street to CMS. Backing the General Hospital end of the road, his capture of an uncommon orderliness in traffic management brings out the beauty of the new look of Lagos Island.