Tess Jaray: Aleppo and Thorns
25 Thursday 25th May

Tess Jaray: Aleppo and Thorns

Marlborough Fine Art

6 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BY

Price: Free
Time: 10 AM - 5.30 PM
Starts: Thu 25th May
Ends: Sat 17th Jun

Marlborough Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of new and early works by British painter Tess Jaray, organised in collaboration with Karsten Schubert.
With a career spanning over five decades, Jaray has continually explored geometry, colour, pattern and repetition, often inspired by architectural structures. Unlike the certainties of mathematical geometry, Jaray focuses on what she describes as the ‘geometry of human relationships’, challenging the viewers’ perception and relationship with the space surrounding us.
On display are large-scale paintings on the theme of Aleppo and a series of small vibrant works from recent years, as well as drawings from throughout her career. Taking inspiration from Islamic tiling, non-Western ancient structures, and Renaissance architecture, Jaray creates works that explore the enigmatic relationship between space, form and colour. The artist states, ‘My use of geometry has more to do with the relationships between people or things, rather than anything mathematical’.
In recent years, Jaray experimented with scale to create impactful, smaller works and sometimes replaces the canvas for a surface that is laser cut. This new technique provides optimum precision, which is evident in work such as Borromini's Balustrade Red & Green, 2014. Intricate, clean lines washed with vibrant colour offer a misleading air of simplicity and encourage the viewer to take a closer look.
Throughout the nineties, Jaray focused much of her practice on monumental-scale site-specific public commissions. Working with an array of materials including brick, metal and stone, Jaray introduced her exploration of space and perspective to the public domain, transforming Victoria Station, London, The Cathedral Precinct, Wakefield and The British Embassy, Moscow.
In March 2017, Jaray’s new twenty-foot high, permanent commission Aleppo at King’s Cross was unveiled in the Tapestry Building, as part of The King’s Cross Project, a three-year programme of public art commissions. The work is part of Jaray’s new Aleppo series, which also on display in the exhibition. Whilst visiting Syria shortly before the war, Jaray fell in love with the country and was inspired by the enchanting architecture of the Citadel, mosques and souks. The artist evokes the distinctive lintel and carved stone of the structures within her paintings, and was compelled to name the works after the city. She explains, ‘My painting has never been political but this is a tribute, in my own way, to the passing of old Aleppo. The impact on me of the colour of the life and mosques of Syria was profound and I needed to lament in my own way the destruction of the city.’
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction which sees Jaray in conversation with fellow artist and friend John Stezaker.
Jaray (b. 1937, Vienna, Austria) moved to the UK in 1938 and now lives and works in London. She studied at Saint Martins School of Art and Design (1954-57) and at Slade School of Fine Art (1957-60), where she later taught as the first female teacher between 1968 and 1999. In 2001 she was elected as a Royal Academician. Solo exhibitions include: Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1973; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1984; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester in 1984; Serpentine Gallery, London, 1988; Piper Gallery, London, 2012; and Megan Piper, London, 2016. Her works are represented in collections around the world including; the British Museum, London; the Arts Council, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Fine Art, Budapest; Museum of Modern Art, Belgrade; Museum XX Jahrhundert, Vienna; Sundsvalls Museum, Sundsvalls and Western Australia Art Gallery, Perth. Selected public commissions include; The Piazza, Broadway, Wimbledon, London (1999-2002); Forecourt of the New British Embassy, Moscow (1995-1999); Leeds General Infirmary, Jubilee Square, Leeds (1995-1998); Roof Terrace for Arts Council Headquarters, London (1991); Terrazzo floor, Victoria Station, London (1985) and the Mural for British Pavilion, Expo 1967, Montreal (1967). In 1995, Jaray was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute for British Architects for the recognition of her work in public places. Jaray has written about other artists’ work since the mid-nineties. A selection of her essays was published in 2010 by Lenz Books and by the Royal Academy of Arts in 2014.




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