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Kim Jones: A Retrospective

Oct 19 - Dec 17 2006

UB Art Gallery

Kim Jones: A Retrospective features sculpture, drawings, collages and a photo-documentation timeline giving a comprehensive overview of the artist’s performances and installations from 1954 to the present, as well as two large-scale installations conceived for the exhibition.

Jones was born out of the 1970s performance art movement in Southern California, where he became widely known for his alter ego, Mudman. Caked in mud, bearing a lattice appendage of sticks attached to his back and wearing a headdress and nylon mask, this unsettling, itinerant figure appeared on city streets, beaches, subways, and in galleries. Connecting the abstract, formal investigations of process and material-based artists and the intense physicality of body-based performance, Mudman evolved from Jones’ early stick sculptures tightly bound in what would become his signature materials of nylon, rope, electrical tape, and foam rubber. Jones uses documentation of Mudman, as well as sculptures that result from performances and installations to develop an idiom of forms and hybrid creatures.

Jones’ drawings fall into two distinct categories. The first group portrays landscapes in which humans morph into animals or exist in a symbiotic relationship with prosthetic devices. The second category is Jones’ War Drawings, two-dimensional, battlefield diagrams done painstakingly in pencil and erasure marks that endlessly pit the x-men and dot-men against each other, offering a timely commentary on eternal confrontation and diplomacy. Two pivotal moments in Jones’ life profoundly inform the content of his work. He was born in San Bernardino, California, in 1944 and as a child diagnosed with a polio-like illness that confined him first to a wheelchair and then leg braces from ages seven to ten. Thirteen years later, he served for a year as a Marine in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 68. Traces of these ordeals reverberate throughout his work dealing with war, confinement and catharsis.

Jones received his BFA in 1971 from the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles, CA and his MFA in 1973 from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. During the past thirty years, Jones’ work has been featured in significant group exhibitions, including Disparities & Deformations: Our Grotesque, Site Santa Fe (2004); Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998); Mapping at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1994); and Choices at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1986).

Kim Jones: A Retrospective was organized by Sandra Q. Firmin and the UB Art Galleries and Julie Joyce and the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, California State University, Los Angeles.

An accompanying 160-page monograph published by MIT Press, MUDMAN: The Odyssey of Kim Jones features essays by Robert Storr and Kristine Stiles, and exhibition curators Sandra Q. Firmin and Julie Joyce.

The exhibition traveled to the Luckman Gallery (March 24 – May 19, 2007) and the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington (October 20, 2007 – January 27, 2008).

The exhibition and its accompanying catalog were made possible through the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Fifth Floor Foundation.