Jon Wealleans (born Yorkshire 1946) studied architecture at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art followed by post-graduate studies in design at the Royal College of Art, where is now an Honorary Fellow. Attracted from the start in his architectural studies by the arts of perspective and the study of shadows as taught in sciagraphy, Wealleans relished the computer free environment of the time with its encouragement to wander between different departments and disciplines.
Wealleans’ career in architecture began with his work with the Building Design Partnership, then Foster Associates before he went on to develop his own practice. In the 1960s he designed shops for the now legendary Mr Freedom and other pop-linked environments as well as furniture which gave him a high public profile and appearances on two BBC TV programs, Design by Five. Concurrently, Wealleans taught architecture and design at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, the Royal College of Art and Kingston University. At around this time he collaborated also with rock musicians and their management, including the Elton John Organisation and Led Zeppelin.
Having always painted, though self-taught, Wealleans has devoted increasing time to his painting since the 1990s, and has participated in several exhibitions at the Francis Kyle Gallery including Roma (2000), Lair of the Leopard (2005), Родина: contemporary painters from the West winter in Russia (2008), This twittering world: Contemporary painters celebrate TS Eliot’s Four Quartets (2011) and Jumping for Joyce (2013). One-person exhibitions with Francis Kyle Gallery 2009, 2011 and 2014.
Jon Wealleans’ wife and collaborator is Natalie Gibson MBE, Senior Lecture in Fashion Print at Central St Martins School of Fashion Design.
Listen to a podcast with Jon on Soundcloud
In this chat with Seaniebee, Jon discusses the motivations behind his highly original, bright, primary, pop-like style and a life-long love of horror movies, which has inspired his new graphic novel – Frankenstein’s Dog.
My paintings have all been made from existing, accidental and non-contrived arrangements of objects, furniture and artefacts – they are never ‘set-up’ or constructed as a deliberate still life scene… The complexity of a still life with seemingly random patches of colour can sometimes devolve into an abstract pattern – perhaps aspiring to the textile design type of imagery that can be seen in the background of some Gustav Klimt paintings.
My original training in modernist architectural tradition has always been the source of a dilemma, in that I was drawn away from the Bauhaus methodology towards the more anti-rationalist architects and designers like Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and later I latched onto the super-sensuous designers of the sixties. The ensuing problem I encountered, which may be reflected in my paintings, is the development of the nagging question: do the Modernists, originally championed by Adolf Loos, continue to dismiss and banish applied decoration because they didn’t like it or because they couldn’t do it?’
Jon Wealleans working in his studio in London