Tess Jaray, Aleppo – The Light Surrounded, 2016, paint on panel, 194 x 200 cm, copyright Tess Jaray, 2017. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Karsten Schubert and Marlborough Fine Art, London
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’.
Tess Jaray, Borromini’s Balustrade Red & Green, 2014, acrylic on metal panel, 24 x 43 cm, copyright Tess Jaray, 2017. All rights reserved. Courtesy Karsten Schubert and Marlborough Fine Art, London
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.
Tess Jaray, Aleppo at King’s Cross, Tapestry Building, King’s Cross, The King’s Cross Project, photo by Mark Blower. Copyright Tess Jaray, 2017 all rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert. Right: Tess Jaray, Aleppo Dark and Light, 2016, paint on panel, 156 x 79 cm, copyright Tess Jaray, 2017. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Karsten Schubert and Marlborough Fine Art, London.
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.