When I first saw these new paintings by Shane Jones, Eliot Gruner immediately sprang to mind. It was something about the expansive sky, strong sense of a light source, and the odd but definitely placed tree that drew the connection. But, on second thoughts, you don’t see many nocturnes by Gruner – nor by many other Australian painters. Both Gruner and Tom Roberts are important influences on Jones, whose precise but impressionistic brushwork in oil, painted en plein air and finished from memory in the studio, testify to the manner and process of these 19th century masters.
Full moons, star-filledskies, white horses and boats sailing towards the horizon are pregnant with symbolism, but rather than feeling cliché, they add an edge of intrigue to a group of works that are not, in fact, otherwise just pleasant landscapes. Twilight is the time when we transition our senses in preparation for the night. The night is when we must depend on our senses and instincts most heavily, bringing us closest to our primal and ancient selves. Moonlight is rarely experienced by city-dwellers - repelled as it is by street lights and black-out blinds – but, in its own special way, it’s as effective in its illumination as sunlight, producing more of a glow than a light. A landscape drenched in the glow of a full moon is a silent and enchanting scene to behold, infused with eeriness and foreboding; an entirely natural yet supernatural mood that is essentially what Jones captures here.