Why Jono Dry?
An artist that I had found more recently last year that motivates me to further develop my skills in art, is Jono Dry. Being a self-taught artist residing in Cape Town, South Africa, this artist combines the intensity of large scale graphite drawings and the complex human form to create a body of works that embodies surrealism and hyper-realism. His works, like many realist artists, take numerous months to complete. This is due to his desire to work large scale, where his pieces generally fall into dimensions of 80x114cm, or vice versa depending on the orientation. Nonetheless, the works immense size is what I find myself envying. As someone who has recently taken art seriously, I am easily intimidated by large scale works. The amount of time and effort they demand comes off as mentally demanding, and requires one to manipulate the scale of subject matter to occupy the space nicely.
Part of his most recent exhibition “Afraid of the Dark”
“I feel there has been a sort of tearing away from the self I have grown to know over the years… Breaking away from my more recent work, this piece marks a departure as well as a development within my life. Making mistakes, as well as coming to terms with those mistakes, is something with which I have always struggled. It reflects in my work that I try to maintain control over as much of my practice and personal life as possible. But while striving for perfection, or just general people pleasing is motivating and can feel good, feeling bound by this standard can be more like a crutch or defence mechanism than an authentic way of being. This piece considers the burden of shame, my own practice of composure and ultimately, the process of dismantling that composure and being seen; flaws and all.”
The work shown above is personally one of my favorite works by Jono Dry, as it not only captures the human form extremely well, but it incorporates this sense of symmetry through the same figures placed in slightly different poses. The use of dramatic lighting and intense shadows that envelope the figures creates a feeling of unease and restlessness.
What is “Afraid of the Dark”?
When looking at the exhibition collectively, Jono Dry’s large-scale graphite drawings take as subject to various issues surrounding mental health and its metaphors, as well as take consideration towards the complexities of identity, depression and anxiety. Common to a vast selection of his work is this encompassing feeling of darkness that surrounds his figures, who stand alone against the shadow. Jono Dry states that “It is to this darkness the title refers, which speaks not only to the fear found in the absence of light but to the ever-present shadows of the human psyche”. Thus it correlates to the isolated figures he draws appear in turns despairing, restrained, and withdrawn.
With that being said, it is important to note that Jono Dry’s drawings are characteristic of styles both hyperreal and surreal. Thus, In composition, it is evident that the artist is “largely influenced by mythology and returns often to the images of archetypes to evoke a momentary recognition in the viewer, a sense of passing familiarity”. The recurring motifs of animal horns, intricate flower arrangements placed on top of the human form, and fabric that surrounds the figures leads one to find out that the artist’s work captures rather odd and obscure means of implementing symbolism. All of which gives each piece a dream-like feel.