Jonathan Kelly draws on the earliest art, the Paleolithic, as it looks beyond today’s complexities to more universal concerns of life, death and sexuality. In his ‘Easy Pray’ series Kelly paints totemic idols as headless figures in contorted yogic positions, they appear to emerge from within the canvas, as if these dormant deities have been illuminated by saturated colour. Stuck-on elements, from arrow heads to Rudrakshas disrupt the image but also align with the figure’s geometry. Like offerings, adornments are placed in a ritual manner, as in reverence or an act of divination. The iteration of the motifs speak of the ritual and habitual nature of belief, like a mantra the paintings are between meaning and meaninglessness. Kelly posits how painting functions as a self-deceptive activity that distracts from and suppresses existential doubt. By paralleling art production with religious belief – both essentially irrational acts – he questions their implicit values.
Jonathan (b. Hereford) lives and works in London. He recieved his Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools in 2017, having previously completed his BA in Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon College of Art (2008-2011). Recent exhibitions and projects include: Creekside Open 2019 (Group Exhibition) at A.P.T Gallery (London, 2019), RareFaction (Group Exhibition) at Ione & Mann (London, 2019), Young London Painters (Group Exhibition, curated by Hector Campbell) at Arthill Gallery (London, 2018).