Jessica Warboys opens first Belgian solo at M - Museum Leuven
Thursday, February 12, 2015 — Nature is central to the work of Jessica Warboys (1977, UK). Sea, wind, daylight and landscape all leave their traces in the creation of her paintings, cyanotypes, installations and videos. From 12 february until 24 may, M showcases Glade, Jessica Warboys’ first solo exhibition in Belgium. Glade refers to an open place in a forest, as an echo of her creative process in the studio, indoors and outdoors.
Sea Paintings (2014)
Jessica Warboys has been working on her Sea Paintings series for several years now. The title of the series refers to the creative process, in which the sea plays a decisive role. Warboys lays her monumental canvas on the beach to apply her pigments, and then carries it into the sea, where her movements, combined with the action of the wind and the waves fix the composition. The aesthetic of her film, Shaded Wood, prompted the artist to experiment with black-and-white versions of her normally colourful Sea Paintings. Using a minimal colour palette, Warboys strips the works back to what she sees as the elementary basis of a painting or drawing: a pattern of black lines on a white surface.
Shaded wood (2014)
Shaded Wood was filmed in Finnmark (Lapland), in northern Norway. The basic living conditions made Warboys aware of the similarities between a shelter in a forest and the practice of an artist in the studio. The film can therefore be interpreted as an observation on the way human beings instinctively create a sense of security depending on where we find ourselves.
The structure made of straight sticks, reminiscent of a tent, the circle of stones in which a fire can be lit, and the animal skins all evoke a life with and within nature. The wooden hut, the solitary car and an empty iron barrel seem to belong, by contrast, to a more sedentary way of life. Combined with her use of black-and-white, Warboys evokes various forms of early cinema, from the first ethnographic films to the ‘cinema of attractions’. Like these early examples, Warboys’ films do not have a particularly strong narrative element: their fascination lies instead in their exoticism or power to enchant.
Motion Mesh, Box Painting, Drift Grid & Wood (2014)
Box Painting and Drift Grid are located on the boundary between painting, architecture and installation. Both series consist of different paintings that have been joined together. Unlike diptychs or triptychs, each of these works claims its own place within the overall space, lending them a sculptural character. Unlike the earlier, monochrome works in the series, Drift Grid stands out for its playful colour rhythms.
Wood is a linear composition made from leftover pieces of wood from her workshop. It offers an indirect illustration of how sculptures arise in the studio. Jessica Warboys uses the colour yellow here to refer to the gold extracted in the forests of Norway, the setting of her film Shaded Wood.
The monumental cyanotype on canvas, Motion Mesh, is also an index of traces, though now a static one, in contrast to the film. The composition alludes to the contours of other works in the exhibition, including part of the sculpture Wood and the stretcher bars of the Drift Grid series of paintings.
Jessica Warboys lives and works between London, Suffolk and Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include Spike Island, Bristol (UK), 2013; Kunsthalle Bielefeld (Germany), 2012 and Le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine (France), 2011. She has also taken part in various international group exhibitions, including The Objects, Glasgow Sculpture Studios (UK) in 2013 and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (Germany) in 2012. Jessica Warboys’ work is represented by the Paris gallery Gaudel de Stampa.