Fiona Rae – Timothy Taylor Gallery – An Abstract Subversion Of Identity

Fiona Rae

Timothy Taylor Gallery presents its fourth solo exhibition by British artist Fiona Rae. This new series of greyscale paintings from 2014–2015 marks a significant development in the YBA artist’s practice, alongside these paintings, a series of small-scale charcoal drawings will be shown, a new expressive medium not previously explored by the artist.

There appears to be an interesting development occurring in the practice of painting. This particular Zeitgeist has manifested itself in a homogeneity of language, creating multiple perspectives when reading works. In this case Rae’s latest paintings incorporate both the language of abstraction, and that of figurative painting to form a relationship between the two; the paintings possess the quality of both forms, one from presence and the latter through implication, occupying these two positions simultaneously.

The abstract works only narrative component is a temporal evocation of the figure, simultaneously present and absent via Rae’s performative mark-making. The artist’s expressive practice in black and white, with tones of grey, creates tonal relationships between elements in the works and between the paintings themselves. But unlike her previous works, Rae is still present in the nature of the paintings; with the artist’s practice of expressive mark-making leaving the presence of a notional figure. The marks themselves are gestural in nature, bringing the movement of the figure to the surfaces of Rae’s abstractions.

In fact the artist creates a temporal self-portrait, the traditional nature of self-portraiture is subverted. Rae creates abstractions where her presence in the work via rigorous mark-making, resides perpetually in the present. This gesture is contemporaneous, and the works reductive. The artist removes the traditional aspect of the self-portrait: forever locked to the history of a singular moment. The mark-making expresses the energy of the figure – always immediate – while Rae’s subjective choice of mark lends the subverted ‘self-portrait’ her identity. The figure forever hovers in front of the artist’s works, as if an aura, post some performative event.

The artist’s usual motif of self-conscious juxtapositions of flat colour with dragged, and daubed painterly marks never had the artist present quite in this way before. With this homogeneity of language Rae creates abstraction of a ‘high modernist idealism’ while simultaneously creating a post-performative object, subverted self-portraiture, both figurative and abstract in nature – adding and erasing the figurative. The artist has answered the question of how you create a figurative painting without the presence of the figure. The seeming chaos of the artist’s mark-making gives way to a balance between painting as object, and painting as intention, with marks at just the right pitch to reveal the hidden event, the invisible figure presiding over the work – perpetually in the now.

Fiona Rae – Timothy Taylor Gallery – until 30 May 2015

Words: Paul Black. Vine: P A Black, Photos courtesy of the Timothy Taylor Gallery © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved


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