Norwich University of the Arts’ new gallery space, East GalleryNUA is delighted to welcome the work of two important contemporary British artists, Tess Jaray and Alison Wilding. ‘Extra Terrestrial’ includes new works by the artists who remain two of the most distinctive, talented and compelling figures in British art, inspiring more than one generation of artists and entrancing audiences for decades with their respective playful geometries and material eloquence.
As can be seen from this show at East GalleryNUA, the work of Jaray and Wilding is evocative and often provocative, but in contrast they complement, parry and riposte in ways that are not entirely predictable. If one should wish to mark out the common ground it is probably to be found in a shared sense of mischief rather than in the formal conventions of painting and sculpture. To paraphrase the Greek proverb, they are both accustomed to ‘…kicking against the pricks.’
Whilst some works within the show may be familiar from exhibitions at Tate Britain (Wilding’s Largo), the Royal Academy of Arts or the Serpentine Gallery (in Jaray’s case), Norwich University of the Arts and Karsten Schubert are especially pleased to be introducing significant new works from both artists within the context of this exhibition.
Further to this, and by way of some explanation, the artists have shown together in more limited ways previously and indeed have published intelligent and insightful commentaries on each other’s oeuvre. Alison Wilding’s ‘Thoughts on an undated page from a sketchbook’, are included in the substantial monograph, ‘The Art of Tess Jaray’, (Ridinghouse, 2014), and in her narrative on Jaray we gain an invaluable insight into the practice of both artists and their varying relationships with art history, architecture and perspective. In interpreting Jaray’s work, Wilding speaks about ‘unfixed’ viewpoints, and in a brief - but deeply perceptive moment, offers clues to the perceptual preoccupations of both artists with space and landscape and the conventions defining the visible and emotional limits of these.
Jaray’s depiction of Wilding’s work in ‘The Blue Cupboard: Inspirations and Recollections’ (Royal Academy of Arts, 2014), is a super-articulate foray into the contrasts, tensions and contradictions embodied by Wilding’s sculptures. In fathoming the work, Jaray appositely cites Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, quoting: “And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you”.
And so to the title of this exhibition, ‘Extra Terrestrial’. This patently is not an homage to popular film culture, but speaks in relation to both artists work, of their uniquely conceptual occupations with landscape, perspective and ontological objecthood. The works of Jaray and Wilding occupy physical and reflective space and offer the viewer an intervening layer of realised ‘otherness’, above and beyond either the picture plane or the physiognomy of sculpture –Wilding’s Terrestrial being the specific reference in point.
By way of final acknowledgement, this show would simply not have happened without the hugely positive approach and willingness of the artists and the close collaboration between the University, Karsten Schubert and Tom Rowland. The University is delighted to have worked as a key partner in this production and to have helped originate and co-curate such a significant regional and national showcase for new and important works.
This exhibition is part of the University’s ‘Created and Contested Territories’ research programme and will be open from Tuesday 26 January – Saturday 19 March, 2016, from 12-5pm, closed Sunday and Monday, Free Admission. www.nua.ac.uk/thegallery
About Norwich University of the Arts
Norwich University of the Arts is a dynamic, modern and creative community providing art, design, architecture and media education from a unique campus at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter. Whilst the institution’s history can be traced back to 1845, it is contemporary and forward thinking with industry standard facilities. The University’s mission is to be the best specialist University for Arts, Design and Media study in Europe, producing graduates of the highest quality. www.nua.ac.uk
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