RONALD JONES exhibition "pflanzenzucht tango" opens at Metro Pictures on Saturday, September 16 (through Oct. 14). Three bonsai garden sculptures are the central components of the exhibition that also includes audio with music and text, computer generated photographs, landscape plans, a painting, found objects and other material. The project is reminiscent of Jones' Vietnam peace tables that were exhibited in his first show at Metro Pictures in 1987 where the separate parts of the exhibition combine to complete the statement.
The title, "pflanzenzucht tango," is derived from the German term for plant cultivation and was the name of a division of inmates that attended to landscaping at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The three bonsai gardens depict "The Fall" (hell) from a 1618 engraving, "Paradise" from a 1617 engraving, and "The Wilderness" (limbo) which recreates the cosmic plan of the Auschwitz prisoners' garden. Completing the elements of the exhibition are: a scrim painting of a 1635 garden scene of a man seducing a woman while death looks on observed through a reversed telescope that shows death further away than it is; a vintage telescope and ladder; computer prints depicting the three gardens; and landscape plans for each garden. The work was inspired by an aerial photograph of the camp garden and by a passage from Harold Bloom's book, The Anxiety of Influence. In Bloom's book Milton's devil enters hell with a poet's artistic desire, and reasons to himself: Either I will repent and surrender my selfhood, or create a relative goodness out of radical evil. In place of Jones' signature long narrative titles are soundscapes composed by Todd Levin with text by Jones that provide subliminal guidance. The catalogue for the exhibition is Beckett's Endgame.
Ronald Jones lives in New York City and has exhibited at Metro Pictures since 1987. His most recent one-person exhibition in New York was at Sonnabend Gallery in 1993. Recent European exhibitions have been at museums and galleries in Lausanne, Paris, Hamburg, and Koln. A group of his sculptures were exhibited at the Whitney Museum's exhibition "Mind Over Matter: Concept and Object," and he has participated in other group exhibitions such as "A Forest of Signs" at MOCA, Los Angeles, "Body and Soul" at the Baltimore Museum of Art, The Spoleto Festival in Charleston, "Photoplay" Chase Manhattan Art Collection that has traveled throughout the U.S. and South America.
Jones is a seminal figure and significant influence on a post-eighties art. His art merges disciplines and sources and eschews the assumption that art must be a compression/distillation of complex thinking and must maintain a signature focus. Jones is a versatile participant in the art community: he designed Chicago's Pritzker Park, is a contributor to periodicals such as Frieze and Artforum, a professor at Yale, an exhibition curator, and he is currently preparing the libretto and designing sets for his opera, "Petrarch's Air," in collaboration with composer Todd Levin to be presented by BAM in 1997.
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