The faceted whimsy and deceptive simplicity of low-poly art has enjoyed a resurgence in the past couple of years because, according to writer and UK designer Martin Gittins, its aesthetic is similar to that of papercraft and origami, both of which have lately been solid and enduring trends in the world of art and design. He also finds that low-poly art’s popularity is a reaction to the “impersonal perfection” of CGI-like artistic output, ubiquitous throughout many forms of media.
Low-poly art is deceptively simple perhaps because of the retro cachet that it necessarily comes packaged with, the subsequent thought being that any form successfully made with now-obsolete technology must these days be an easy accomplishment. Not so, however. Creating good low-poly art requires an artist to be able to choose coherent palettes, be sensitive to capturing light and shadow on geometric form and—perhaps more importantly—know where granularity of shape should stop.
Los Angeles-based Angie Jones’ paintings are excellent examples of low-poly art done well. They are almost mechanical in their precision—”so crisp,” Jones offers, “that many people think the paintings are digital renderings.” Perhaps they seem so crisp because Jones begins her work digitally. Using the skills she learned from working for years in visual effects creation, she models, positions and lights her images in Maya.
Next, she uses the 3D camera to render a 2D image into Illustrator to use as a basis for the color theory behind each pixel. Her painting begins once she projects that colored image onto a canvas and pencils in the lines and planes which will be painted with pigment, much of which she mixes herself with fluorescent oil pigment in order to achieve the levels of color saturation she needs. The process is almost as fascinating as its results: well ordered, thoughtfully arranged and jewel-like.
While her influences continually evolve, she counts Francis Bacon, Frank Stella, Ray Kurzweil, Guy Yanai, David Jien, Lee Bui, Marshall Mcluhan, Steven Berlin Johnson, and Malcolm Gladwell among them.
You Are What You Eat, a large two-panel painting, is a beautiful, vibrant piece and it stands apart stylistically from the rest of Jones’ work. The palette consists largely of almost cotton candy pinks and blues which, considering the subject matter, belie the seriousness of the mind and are reminiscent of the style of Jeff Jordan, another painter with a surrealist bent and a multi-layered process.
The polyhedron on the left of the image—mirrored and tangled, flowing and symmetrical—reflects the colors of the whole of the frenetic right side, where a figure runs headlong among a maze of coruscating dream structures that are at once dimensional and flat. What emanates from her head is a signal that echoes the action of the crossing sign and the no-doubt humming, taut silence of the wires in the background.
The painting instantly puts one in mind of Salvador Dali because of how interesting and coherent the piece is. Unlike Dali, though, Jones’ work is more evocative and speaks more directly to its audience. It is far more grounded and clear, too. Instead of a static image presented so suddenly, the motion Jones captures in the landscape leaves the viewer with the impression that he is seeing a still shot from a film whose ending happens outside the canvas.
Take a look at more of Angie Jones’ work on her official web site.