Tess Jaray, RA (b. 1937, Vienna, Austria) is one of Britain's most distinguished and influential painters. Jaray works in the abstract tradition; for over 50 years she has used painting, drawing and printmaking to explore and expand her personal interactions with architectural space, mass, surface and light. This publication focuses on a series of new works, small format paintings made in response to the frescoes of fifteenth-century painter Piero della Francesca. Jaray's longstanding interest in Piero's depictions of three-dimensional space – in which biblical scenes are enacted in such a manner that the viewer is invited to actively participate in their narratives – arose following a transformative period spent in Italy as a young artist. Here Jaray’s paintings are paired with the respective Piero frescos that inspired them, along with short extracts from art historian Roberto Longhi’s seminal Piero della Francesca publication (first published in 1927) chosen by the artist.
“Through the process of entirely intuitive drawing, suddenly a line or a shape may take on a meaning that can be developed. These drawings are in a way an archaeology of the unconscious mind. A way to make discoveries on paper that may be developed into paintings. Paul Klee famously spoke about ‘taking a line for a walk.’ I would take that further and say that for me it’s a record of travelling with a pencil.“ (Tess Jaray)
Considering the dynamics of form, pattern and colour, Tess Jaray’s public art transforms its architectural surroundings with sequences of interlocking geometric shapes.
For over three decades, Jaray’s abstract painting has been complimented by a series of art projects that extends her investigation of space and perspective to the public sphere. Working primarily with materials such as brick, stone and metal, the forms of Jaray’s public squares are often held in an equilibrium of movement and stillness.
Drawing together ten of the artist’s important public commissions, the volume includes an essay by Charles Darwent that situates Jaray’s projects within the tradition of twentieth-century public art, an interview with the artist by Doro Globus, as well as historic statements by Richard Cork and Glyn Emrys, among others.
"This book was started as a memoir of my mother and subsequently developed into something more like a diary, covering my recollections of a postwar childhood in Worcestershire, an art-school education and subsequent obsessions. It may be read in the light, or perhaps one should say in the shadow, of its political history."
So begins an irresistible sequence of reflections by Tess Jaray ra. Whether providing insights into the mind of an artist, or recounting the eccentricities of her singular childhood, The Blue Cupboard is a consistently characterful, humorous and life-affirming piece of writing. Jaray is a painter and printmaker whose work is characterised by the enigmatic interaction of forms and colours. In 2010 she published a book of her collected writings, Painting: Mysteries and Confessions (RA publications). She has also created imagery to accompany the work of W. G. Sebald. She has artworks in many public collections, including the Tate and the British Museum, and her paving designs can be seen in Centenary Square, Birmingham, St Mary s Church, Nottingham, and the forecourt of Victoria Station.
Examining the geometry of pattern, repetition and colour within her surroundings, British artist Tess Jaray has explored painterly perspective for more than five decades.
Tess Jaray focuses on producing the illusion of space, using perspective to create a field of spatial paradox that equates to distance and closeness in the mind. In many of her works the area of pattern – whether polygons, waves or rectangles – is contained by a strong, grounding background colour, thereby controlling the movement of the forms.
Alongside a large group of Jaray’s paintings of enigmatic forms and colours – which celebrate the vitality inherent within archetypal rhythms and patterns – this first monograph explores her contemporary influence. From Kazimir Malevich and Lucio Fontana to Italian architecture and Islamic mosaics, this volume situates the artist within the tradition of abstract painting and the history of art.
In these subtle and penetrating essays the artist Tess Jaray considers the work of painters past and present whom she admires, from Giotto and Piero to such contemporaries as Basil Beattie and younger artists like Martin Creed. She also reflects on the questions and preferences that motivate her own practice how we apprehend beauty, the qualities of particular colours and returns often to the idea that artists are looking for patterns to make sense of the world. Jaray shares this modernist sensibility with the writer W. G. Sebald, who features in several pieces in this collection and whose presence is felt throughout. Like Sebald, in these essays Jaray approaches the mysteries of making art where it comes from and what happens when we look at it, in our heads and in our hearts.
This book is a completely original collaboration between two artists, the writer W.G.Sebald and the painter Tess Jaray. Tess Jaray first met W.G.Sebald in December 1999, having been profoundly moved by his two books, The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn. The idea of their working together seemed to follow naturally. For Years Now contains 23 short stories by W.G.Sebald - the first that he has written in English - each of them paired with a related image by Tess Jaray.
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