TJ Owens drawings and paintings straddle the line between early modernism and the neo-expressionist movement of the 1980s, his work an energetic slash, a violent mark, a colourful riposte to the organised world that seeks to stifle our emotional life and compartmentalise it, define it, label us, box us away as passive consumers with no relationship to the world around us.
These are pictures that celebrate the wonder and joy, the dark and grim, the love and the hate that is interwoven into the fabric of our being, his figures riffing off found images and graffiti scrawls, his use of markers, ink and paint creating a bold statement of intent. There is a sense of emergency in these drawings, as if Owens has a desperate need to express quickly, with haste, the theatre within him urging him forward, to let go, his figures looking to express themselves on a disjointed plane that has been broken up in a cubist dream. Here we have the work of an artist who works in a primal whirlpool of form and colour, each mark imbued with an atavistic desire to reclaim what is lost and re-imagine it for the present.
Largely self taught Owens has been making art for many years, his artistic career rooted in the new world of California and the old world of the Languedoc, both places playing their part, both seeping into his work. In these pictures we have the brashness of America and the history of France competing, juxtaposing, the light and colours of the desert shining upon a fauvist aesthetic, as if a battle of wills is underway, a compelling fusion of old and new, order and chaos, intuitivity and control.
There is much joy present in this work. Perhaps derived from a wonderful life of transatlantic travel between two beautiful countries, two different cultures and a full life led. Here’s what Owen’s has to say about his work:
I seek to maintain a personal self satisfying mood or zone between cooperation/function and process – perhaps a very selfish motivation.