TIME AND PLACE:
Doors: 10am to 6pm
@ Michael Werner, 22 Upper Brook Street, London W1K 7PZ
The exhibition brings together for the first time the paintings that form Jones’ Maîtresse cycle. Begun as a commissioned movie poster in 1975, Maîtresse developed into a discrete group of several major works by 2015.
The movie Maîtresse, directed by Barbet Schroeder, depicts the unfolding of an obsessive romance between a small-time crook and a professional dominatrix. Starring Gérard Depardieu and Bulle Ogier, and featuring the costume designs of Karl Lagerfeld, this sexually explicit film was controversial for its time. In 1975 the film’s American distributor asked Jones to design a poster for Maîtresse and invited the artist to view the film privately in Paris. Unable to identify with its explicit sadomasochistic themes – Jones recalls feeling “scared to death” but equally enthralled – Jones was nonetheless taken with the film’s powerfully stylised heroine, and he accepted the poster commission.
The painting he created depicted a high-heeled, leather-clad brunette standing before a parted curtain with a bullwhip in her hand. Letters spelling the film’s title appear as scattered blocks of text below her. Jones developed the image on a canvas larger than the required size so as to maintain the utmost detail in the final reproduction of the poster. Concerned that Jones’ image would be inappropriate in newspaper advertisements, the distributor asked Jones to drop the whip and change the brunette to a blonde; Jones obliged, replacing the whip with a ring of keys, and then quickly changed the work back to its original state once he’d been paid.
Jones kept the original Maîtresse painting for himself, excluding it from exhibitions. In recent years Jones began to reconsider the work, developing an increasing fascination with its subject and its latent potential. Of particular excitement for Jones was the possibility of using his poster illustration as a motif: beginning in 2008 and continuing for seven years, Jones created seven canvases around the motif of the original Maîtresse, using the dominatrix figure as the means to explore space, form and color. The works share the same deep, fiery palette and overarching symmetrical structure, yet are markedly different in their depiction of light and shadow and the treatment of a figure as both a plane and a volume.
— MichaelWernerGallery (@_MichaelWerner_) March 12, 2016