Ben Jones is one of Los Angeles’ biggest “It” artists. His work goes beyond a canvas or a video or light and sound and are often very enveloping, experiential pieces that bring you into his world. His recent MOCA show The Video turned the Pacific Design Center space into a cube of moving color, that took fans of his racing Transmission LA piece and beyond into a new territory of video paintings. To look back on the last five years of making, Ben has released a new book with Picturebox called Men’s Group: The Video. Part The Video catalogue and part polished scrapbook, Men’s Group is a peek inside Ben’s head.
The book is physically like a spiral bound folder with various crazy layers that analyze the artist’s work in very straightforward and honest ways to cooky, borderline silly ways. The best example of this is the very topical and technologically aware series of iPhone screenshots of Instagram photos people took of his piece at Transmission. We’re sure you’ll see an Instagram you know as we totally saw Nicki Wong’s @tropicofunicorn pop up. These small pages then lead into giant pink pages that actually poke out of the top of the book: they are a series of essays, interviews, and poems in and around The Video and masculinity. From AIM conversations to Howard Stern quotes to that hysterically WTF photo of Wyclef Jean in a speedo on a motorcycle from last year, the section is a series of funny bits that help to define an artist’s point of view and the world and contexts that they live in. These bright pink pages certainly feel like a locker room and certainly is the Men’s Group in question.
The remainder of the book feels much like an artist’s journal. There are slim, horizontal pages that give a before and after examination of video paintings, neon green sketchbook pages that make you wonder if Ben actually draws in hypercolored notebooks, a section of hand drawn comics that includes everything from Bart Simpson to Gumby to high end toilet humor, and a final series of sections that are simple examinations of work. One of the most surprising moments is the Products 2009 bit as it is a short catalogue that “contains a selection of products designed by Ben Jones.” Brightly colored Q-Bert storage cubes and nearly 1D ladders are included on the roster in addition to a very covetable (by me) bench version of his painting Dog. Seeing his Black Math and 2010 paintings, Ben gives you glimpses of the where The Video pieces evolved from. Many feel like his video paintings minus the video, which sounds more duh than you would think.
Men’s Group: The Video is a great recapping of Ben Jones’ artistic endeavors presented in a super interesting format since it is a very atypical book and more of a strung together folder of works, inspirations, and conversations. Any fan of Ben will fall in love with it (We certainly did.) and, as PictureBox is known for, the book as a product is so sleek and beautiful that it becomes it’s own precious item. The book is available for purchase now from PictureBox’s website for $34.95 and the first one hundred fifty orders get a signed book by Ben and a tote bag designed by him. Order now!!