Vienna, b.1937

Tess Jaray

Since the 1950s Tess Jaray (B. 1937), has been pursuing the ineffable purity of the physical world. Perhaps it was the rolling hills of her childhood countryside in Austria, or the encounter with the bisecting arches of the great Florentine architect, Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)—or the inimitable work of Renaissance master, Piero Della Francesca, that profoundly moved the then young artist to embark on a life of artistic invention and mastery of line, pattern, and color.

Her eye is inquisitive as it is astute. An architectural site has a lot to offer, and Jaray reads its story through the rich surface details, perspectival space and lambency. From them she draws a distilled geometric design, worked over and over to a state of universal beauty, at once familiar and original. This has...

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Biography

Since the 1950s Tess Jaray (B. 1937), has been pursuing the ineffable purity of the physical world. Perhaps it was the rolling hills of her childhood countryside in Austria, or the encounter with the bisecting arches of the great Florentine architect, Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)—or the inimitable work of Renaissance master, Piero Della Francesca, that profoundly moved the then young artist to embark on a life of artistic invention and mastery of line, pattern, and color.

Her eye is inquisitive as it is astute. An architectural site has a lot to offer, and Jaray reads its story through the rich surface details, perspectival space and lambency. From them she draws a distilled geometric design, worked over and over to a state of universal beauty, at once familiar and original. This has become Jaray’s indelible aesthetic that has garnered acclaim and respect. She was made an Honorary Fellow of RIBA (Royal Institute for British Architects) in 1995 and a Royal Academician in 2010.

In the series Aleppo, Jaray is searching for light in the darkness. In the late 1990s, Jaray visited the city of Aleppo in Syria. She soaked it in, making notes of the majestic mosques and ancient stones with their contrasting colors, but it was not until 2016, when the extremist IS regime leveled the ancient city and all its architectural heritage within minutes in front of a paralyzed world audience, that Jaray was impelled to develop a new body of work.

Aleppo, inspired by the arches Jaray saw during her visit to the mosques of Aleppo, is a series of wall-based works, each consisting of two or more panels, where the meeting edges are perfectly laser-cut in a zig-zag shape and slightly distanced from one another painted in muted hues. The panels are softly painted with muted hues each of equal height but with varying widths and opposing colors to create a riveting tension. One can look at the panels as paintings, but turning one’s focus to the in-between chasm, the work takes on a whole new context.

What can we take from Jaray’s Aleppo paintings? Are we to read these fissures as belligerent factions, tearing into the peace and purity of the land? Does the zig-zag connote violence, splintering pain of loss, not only of innocent lives but civilization’s great treasures? Or are we to acknowledge that because of the confluence of diverse milieus, the convergence of dissenting ideas, the bonds between humans, that innovation and progress are sprung from the sum of its parts? Through these ethereal paintings, Jaray has enabled our agency for reflection.

Tess Jaray RA, born in Vienna, is a British painter and printmaker. She studied at St Martin’s School of Art (1954 – 1957) and the Slade School of Art (1957 – 1960). Between 1985 and 2000 Jaray devoted much of her time to working on public commissions, applying her understanding of architectural space and pattern to large-scale projects in public spaces. Major public commissions include a terrazzo pattern design for London Victoria train station (1986); Centenary Square, Birmingham (1988-92); Wakefield Cathedral Precinct (1989-92); Jubilee Square at Leeds General Infirmary (1995-2008); and the forecourt for the new British Embassy in Moscow (1999-2001). Her work is included in numerous public collections, among them The Tate Collection, London; The Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Sundsvall Museum, Sweden; and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Artworks

7

Citadel [Lights on Light], 2017

Related Categories

21st Century Art / Abstract Painting / Abstraction / Art of the 2010s / Board / British Art / Color and Form / Color Field Abstraction / Color Field Painting / Contemporary British Art / Contemporary European Art / European Art / Geometric Abstraction / Inspired by Architecture / Learning from Different Cultures / Less is More / Light and Darkness / London / Monochrome Painting / Oil on Board / Oil Paint / Oil Painting / Painting / Point / Line / Plane / Restrained Expression / Space/Spatiality / Vienna / Women Artists

Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • 1960

    Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, London (1957-1960)

  • 1957

    Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London (1954-1957)

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    MARC STRAUS, New York, NY, US

  • 2017

    Tess Jaray, Karsten Schubert in collaboration with Sotheby’s S|2

  • Tess Jaray, Karsten Schubert in collaboration with Marlborough Fine Art, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    I Coulda Been A Contender, MARC STRAUS, New York, NY, US

  • 2016

    Extra Terrestrial: Tess Jaray and Alison Wilding, East GalleryNUA (in collaboration with Karsten Schubert), Norwich, UK

  • 2013

    The Edge of Painting, The Piper Gallery, London, UK

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Curriculum Vitae

The artist CV shows the details after 2000s.
To access the artist’s full CV, please click the download button at the end.

Education

  • 1960

    Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, London (1957-1960)

  • 1957

    Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London (1954-1957)

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    MARC STRAUS, New York, NY, US

  • 2017

    Tess Jaray, Karsten Schubert in collaboration with Sotheby’s S|2

  • Tess Jaray, Karsten Schubert in collaboration with Marlborough Fine Art, London, UK

  • Tess Jaray: The Light Surrounded 20 April–27 May 2017, Albertz Benda Gallery, New York, NY, US

  • 2013

    The Landscape of Space, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, UK

  • 2012

    Piper Gallery, London

  • 2008

    Lyon & Turnbull, London

  • 2003

    Purdy Hicks Gallery, London

  • 2001

    Clifford Chance, London, UK

  • Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    I Coulda Been A Contender, MARC STRAUS, New York, NY, US

  • 2016

    Extra Terrestrial: Tess Jaray and Alison Wilding, East GalleryNUA (in collaboration with Karsten Schubert), Norwich, UK

  • 2013

    The Edge of Painting, The Piper Gallery, London, UK

  • Drawings: Mel Bochner, Robert Holyhead, Ann-Marie James, Tess Jaray, Bridget Riley, Alison Wilding, Karsten Schubert, London, UK

  • Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

  • 2012

    New Possibilities: Abstract Painting from the Seventies, The Piper Gallery, London, UK

  • Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

  • Synthesis, Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

  • 2011

    Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

  • The Shape of Things, Ferrate Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel

  • 2010

    Layers: John Moores Painting Prize Retrospective, Seongnam Cultural Foundation, Seongnam, Korea

  • Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

  • 2009

    The Rise of Women Artists, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

  • Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space, London, UK

  • Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

  • 2008

    Contact, 79a Brick Lane, London, UK

  • Arts Futures, Contemporary Arts Society, Bloomberg Space, London, UK

  • Exacting Standards, Lemon Street Gallery, Cornwall, UK

  • 2007

    Repetition & Sequence, Jerwood Space, London, UK

  • Sequence & Repetition, Brunel Arts Centre, Brunel University, London, UK

  • 2006

    Summer Exhibition, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

  • 2005

    Private View: Forty Years On, Rocket Gallery, London, UK

  • Summer Exhibition, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

  • 2004

    Visual Rhythms, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk, UK

  • 2003

    Summer Exhibition, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

  • 2002

    Out of Line: Drawings from the Arts Council Collection, Winfield Arts, Suffolk; ArtSway, Sway, and Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, UK

  • Summer Exhibition, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London, UK

Commissions

  • 2012

    Paving for St Mary’s Church, Nottingham, UK

  • 2011

    Terrazzo paving for 23 Newman Street, London, UK

  • 2005

    Piazza for Anyang Art Festival, South Korea

  • Outpatients’ area of University Hospitals, Coventry and Warwick, UK (2005-2006)

Collections

  • Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, UK

  • Arts Council Collection, London, UK

  • Contemporary Art Society, London, UK

  • Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK

  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Serbia

  • Museum des 20 Jahrhunderts, Vienna, Austria

  • Städtisches Museum, Leverkusen, Germany

  • Sundsvall Museum, Sundsvall, Sweden

  • Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest, Croatia

  • The British Council, London, UK

Bibliography

  • 2012

    Richard Davey, Tess Jaray: Thresholds, Royal Academy of Arts Publications, London

  • Terry Pitts, Tess Jaray: Mapping the Unseeable, The Piper Gallery, London

  • Rachel Campbell-Johnston, ‘Show Business’, RA Magazine, No. 115, Summer

  • 2010

    Brian Sewell, ‘Oh, No! It’s the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition’, Evening Standard, 10 June 2010

  • Nancy Campbell, ‘Tess Jaray: Painting: Mysteries and Confessions’, Times Literary Supplement, May

  • 2003

    Mel Gooding, Tess Jaray: New Paintings, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London

  • Martin Coomer, ‘Tess Jaray’, Time Out, 5 March

  • 2001

    Nigel Frank, Tess Jaray: Prints 1966–2001, Clifford Chance, London

  • Judith Bumpus, ‘Corridors and Uniforms’, RA Magazine, No. 72

  • Terry Grimley, ‘When Art is More Than Mere Decoration’, Birmingham Post, 22 August

  • Louisa Buck, ‘Tess Jaray’s New Paintings’, Art Newspaper, March

  • 2000

    Kim Williams ’Environmental Patterns: Paving Designs by Tess Jaray’, Nexus Network Journal, Vol. 2, June

Writing

  • 2013

    Foreword’, The Edge of Painting, The Piper Gallery, London ‘Introduction’, Patrick George, Browse & Darby, London

  • 2012

    ‘Introduction’, Summer Exhibition Illustrated 2012, Royal Academy of Arts, London

  • 2011

    ‘Quiet Revelation: The Drawings of Watteau’, RA Magazine, No. 110, Spring

  • 2010

    Painting: Mysteries and Confessions, Lenz Books and RA Publications, London

  • ’Introduction’, Neal Jones: The Absurd is the New Sublime, L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, London

  • 2009

    Michael Sandle: Chiaroscuro, Time & Memory, Art Space Gallery, London

  • ‘Introduction’, Timothy Hyman: The Man Inscribed with London, Austin/Desmond, London

  • 2008

    Contact, 79a Brick Lane, London

  • The World in a Speck of Red Dust, The work of Onya McCausland, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester

  • 2002

    For Years Now: Poems by W.G Sebald with Images by Tess Jaray, Short Books, London

  • ‘A Mystery and a Confession’, Irish Pages, Vol. 1, No. 2, Autumn–Winter

  • 2001

    ‘Introduction’, From the Rings of Saturn and Vertigo, Purdy Hicks Gallery, London