Art Styles Featured in The Iris On

The Iris On seamlessly blends realist portraits with non-representational backgrounds to create eye-catching and inventive works of art. Each painting contains a near-photorealistic portrait of a woman seamlessly wrapped in non-representational forms. Erik Jones thus seems to be heavily influenced by non-representational art as well as realism.

Non-Representational Art
Non-representational art is a form of abstractionism that bears no trace of reference to any recognizable object. Though many use the terms “abstract” and “non-representational” interchangeably, non-representational art refers to a specific subset of abstract art, which includes all imagery that involves some kind of departure from reality regardless of whether the abstraction is derived from figurative or natural sources. Non-representational art generally expresses an artist’s subjective experience or intention to evoke particular reactions from viewers. Therefore, in non-representational art, meaning becomes highly subjective, and unless the artist has clearly stated his or her intentions, the meaning will generally be personal to the viewer.

As abstract art grew in popularity throughout the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, non-representational art emerged as artists explored it as a means of spiritual expression. Wassily Kandinsky notably painted many non-representational works as one of the first popular abstract artists, and he theorized that pure abstraction correlated with sound and music, expressing pure spirituality.

Unlike Kandinsky, The Iris On does not claim any spiritual meaning to the non-representational elements of his portraits. Instead, Jones generally refers to them as clothing that wraps the figures he paints. However, Jones’s explanation does not firmly establish any kind of intended meaning, leaving much of his non-representational work up to interpretation by the viewer.

Realism in the visual arts refers to detailed and accurate artistic representations of scenes or objects, which are often drawn in photographic precision. Realism first became popular in the 19th Century as a reaction against the idealized theories of painting and high art that dominated from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment; the social changes triggered by the Industrial Revolution ultimately beget a change in artistic focus away from high art tradition and toward artists’ real impressions of their subjects. The term “realism” first originated in France with novelist Champfleury and painter Gustave Courbet.

As realist painting spread throughout multiple genres of art, it heavily influenced portraits and figure painting. Instead of idealizing their subjects, artists painted them as they were. During the 1960s and 1970s, photorealism emerged as an increasingly popular trend. Though the style can be critiqued as focusing more on the artists’ skills than the actual art, photorealism heavily influences realist painting today. In The Iris On, for example, the portraits of women featured in Jones’s paintings clearly fall under the umbrella of realism and border on photorealism.