The Fractured and the Feline


20 November 2014

The space where multimedia artist Quentin Jones and spatial designer Robert Storey are busy preparing what will become their joint exhibition feels very much a reflection of its title.

The Fractured and the Feline is, at the time of writing, not yet a completed installation. Jones’s collages (cut-ups built around images of women’s bodies from fashion photography) lie scattered across the floor, or else are partially attached to walls in anticipation of their final compositions. Storey’s wooden boards and panels are still bare and the installation, which is based at The Vinyl Factory in central London, has just started to take shape.

Yet this glimpse of an unfinished installation is instructive as regards the final exhibition. “I’d be lying if I’d say the exhibition is too curated in terms of theme,” acknowledges Jones. “I just wanted to pick up what I find the most interesting from my own work. I wanted to find out what the thread was. It was more a process of laying those out and then starting to recognise themes retrospectively.

Jones’ collages in black, white, with added colour blocks, have become a recognisable signature. Her work takes in illustration, film and animation for commercial clients such as Louis Vuitton, Opening Ceremony and Schweppes, as well as projects for magazines including Wallpaper Love and i-D. Her collages simultaneously appropriate and redefine fashion images; they show their versatility, with a particular focus on the female form and its contours (the root of the Feline in the exhibition title).

“I recognised that a lot of what I like tends to be some form of portraiture,” she says. “Some way of breaking down a person’s face, making inanimate objects into faces and faces into objects – exploring visually what can and can’t be a face.”

Jones is aware however of a duality behind her work. “A lot of the time I’m working with fashion brands and I am portraying women,” she says. “So I am doing that thing, which at a later moment I could be commenting on. I have made more art-based pieces where we played with the idea of girls in the media being watched and the sexualization of the female form. So I think it is a subject matter I am drawn to, but often I am part of the problem.”

The notion of fracture is an essential element to collage and, thanks to Storey, is also tangible within the exhibition space itself. Storey structured the exhibitions into sections that take you on a journey through the different phases of Jones’s creative oeuvre. “A lot of it was about playing with the elements of her work,” says Storey, who has designed sets to exhibit each of Jones’s works. "Like chopping things up, having dark and light spaces that you can immerse yourself into.”

The initial section introduces us to an archive of Jones’s best-known, commercial work, which is shown together with sketchbook material. In this dark space everything is intensely assembled together. Next is a darkened film room, in which films are screened all around the viewer, creating an immersive and interactive experience. The “hall of mirrors” that follows intensifies this feeling, proving a slightly disorientating experience. In Storey’s words, it gives the impression of “looking at something – and it’s looking back at you.”

Jones’s modus operandi resembles a stream-of-consciousness-technique and Storey’s design is responsive to this. “My process is about connecting a million things, throwing them onto the floor and then seeing what the interesting coincidences are,” explains Jones. “It may be about a circle and a face but it’s some visual coincidence that’s compelling enough to stick it down. If I’m going to bother ripping a page out of something it will have to have form and be graphic and not be textural and faint or nuanced, it should be quite punchy.”

“I’m less concerned about logistics in spaces and more excited about the feeling of when you’re in a space,” says Storey. “The way you experience the space rather than the way the space has been developed or designed.”

The Fractured and the Feline showcases Jones and Storey's ability to be creative within the parameters of commercial fashion imagery. “It’s a good and bad thing”, offers Storey, on their work in the realms of art and design. “That’s what enables us to cross between fashion and art.”