Tess Jaray & Ernesto Briel at S|2

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Launch Slideshow

From 24th November 2017 to 26 January 2018, S|2 gallery will present exhibitions by two iconic contemporary artists: Tess Jaray and Ernesto Briel.  Both artists employ geometry in a particular way, with Jaray exploring the geometry of space inspired by architectural forms, while Briel explores geometric abstraction through optical art.

Tess Jaray
24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

Ernesto Briel
24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

Tess Jaray & Ernesto Briel at S|2

  • Ernesto Briel, Nebulosa En Expansion (Expanding Nebula), 1968.
    Ernesto Briel was instrumental in the circulation of geometric abstraction in Cuba during the 1960s and 1970s. Nebulosa en Expansion, featured in the current S|2 exhibition of Briel’s work, is a primary example of one of the artist’s circular monochromatic compositions. The contrasting pattern creates a sensation of movement, giving the impression that the shape is rotating and expanding out. As with many of Briel’s artworks, Nebulosa en Expansion was featured in Signos, a graphic magazine produced in the late sixties and throughout the seventies in Cuba with the intention of bringing culture back to the Cuban people after years of civil unrest. A comparable artwork by Briel to Nebulosa en Expansion, titled simply Nebulosa, was featured in The Illusive Eye (2016) exhibition at the El Museo del Barrio in New York, which presented an international survey of Kinetic and Op art. 



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Ernesto Briel, Untitled, circa mid-1960s.
    Briel found inspiration in Optical and Kinetic art. Op artists were primarily concerned with the behaviour of the eye, with pioneers of the movement such as Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley developing abstract compositions to create optical illusions. Briel’s interest in the optical remains concrete throughout his work; in this untitled piece the use of black Indian ink on the light paper background allows for maximum contrast and the effect of warping lines and shapes. As with much of his work, Briel could give a flat pictorial surface a more dynamic quality, enriching and adding more three-dimensionality to the planes of the picture. 



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Ernesto Briel, Untitled, circa late 1960s.
    This untitled work combines one of Briel’s circular compositions with an intermittent block of lines. Briel continued to explore the interplay of geometric shapes in his work and considered the effect this had on the viewer’s eye. In contrast to several of his previous compositions, for this work Briel used a type of photographic paper that bares a darker tone and makes less of an optical impact on the eye. The change in medium was symptomatic of the economic situation in Cuba during this period, as due to the US trade embargo materials in Cuba were limited and artists had to be more resourceful in order to continue their practice. It is likely that the photographic paper used here came from the former Soviet Union, one of Cuba’s few trade allies at the time.



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Ernesto Briel, Papalop III, 1977.
    A few years following the creation of this artwork, along with his lifelong partner and fellow artist, Jesus Selgas, Briel would leave Cuba for New York on the historic Mariel boat lift in 1980. Many artists were among those leaving the country, often in an effort to pursue creative freedom. Briel continued to exhibit in a number of solo and group shows in New York until his untimely death in 1993. During his early work in New York, Briel created a series of ink drawings of kites. These detailed kite drawings are similar in composition to Papalop III, sharing the same fine attention to detail and emphasis on the importance of line and shape.  



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Ernesto Briel, Untitled, 1970.
    This untitled work from 1970 sees Briel combining geometric abstraction with more figurative elements. The inclusion of two faces gazing at one another, based within one of Briel’s more signature expanding circles, shows the artist experimenting with the capabilities of Op Art. The central love heart is also much more emotionally suggestive than the hard-edge abstraction characteristic of Briel’s work. The inscription to the lower right of the work references The Dead City of Korad, a collection of science fiction poems published in 1964 by the Cuban poet, Oscar Hurtado. The work is likely to have been inspired by this poetry collection, which is sometimes seen as the introduction of science fiction as a genre in Cuba. Briel moved in a variety of artistic circles in Cuba, having also worked in the theatre, he was friends with a range of artists, actors and writers of the period. 



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Ernesto Briel, Cinética Del Círculo (Kinetic Circle), 1968.
    Cinética del Círculo, or Kinetics of the Circle, alludes to Briel’s interest in Kinetic art.  Kinetic art originated out of the Dada and Constructivist movements of the 1910s, and was an important inspiration for Briel alongside his commitment to Op Art. Some of Briel’s earliest works had been assemblages and three-dimensional pieces with a kinetic focus. The contrasting geometric patterns of Cinética del Círculo sees Briel using optical graphics to mimic the movement of kinetic artworks on a two-dimensional surface. Cinética del Círculo was part of the collection of Samuel Feijóo, a Cuban art connoisseur, writer and critic. Feijóo championed Briel’s work and helped it to be circulated across Cuba through his magazine Signos, in which this work was featured along with several others in the current S│2 exhibition.



     



    Ernesto Briel
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Palace Green, 1962.
    The title and composition of Palace Green suggests an architectural setting, as the central panel of the work comprises of an arrangement of geometric shapes in the form of tiles. In 1960 Jaray received the Abbey Minor Traveling Scholarship to Italy, which enabled the artist to visit Rome, Florence, Sienna and Venice on her own version of “The Grand Tour”. The trip had a significant impact on Jaray and her work, enhancing her interest in Early Renaissance architecture, specifically the impressive spaces masterminded by Filippo Brunelleschi. 



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Study Towards 'Palace Green', 1962.
    Due to the often complex nature of Jaray’s geometric-based canvases, the artist would compose several preliminary sketches and studies on a smaller scale prior to her larger paintings. The current S|2 exhibition features several pencil drawings and oil on paper studies from Jaray’s oeuvre, including this work, Study Towards ‘Palace Green.’ This study dates from the same year as her larger canvas Palace Green and captures a composition of rough brush strokes which later form the geometric shapes in the neat and articulate canvas. 



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Rialto, 1966.
    The title of this work, St Stephen’s Green, suggests a direct reference to the iconic St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.  In the summer of 1957, Jaray and her parents returned to their native Vienna for the first time since emigrating from the country in 1938. During this trip, Jaray visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral, finding inspiration for her work in its impressive Gothic architecture. St Stephen’s Green was exhibited at Recent British Painting: Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Collection at the Tate Galleries in 1967. As a statement for the exhibition, Jaray wrote, “My structure relates to function as in architecture. The difference is the function. In the case of the painting it is a vehicle for sensation and emotion.” 



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Finial, 1966.
    Rialto is one of several paintings within the S|2 exhibition that marks an introduction to a new landscape orientation to Jaray’s work. The title of the work and its extended canvas brings to mind the landmark Rialto Bridge in Venice. Several years prior to creating Rialto, Jaray visited Venice as part of her travelling scholarship and the trip would prove to have a lasting impact on the artist and her work. The painting also shares compositional similarities with its central lattice work to the mural Jaray was commissioned to produce for the British Pavilion at Montreal’s Exposition of 1967. 



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Finial, 1966.
    Painted in the same year as Rialto, this work shares the same extended landscape orientation of the majority of Jaray’s work from this period. Entitled, Finial, the subject refers to a small incidental ornament which sits atop a piece of architecture or furniture. Once more, Jaray draws upon an architectural reference or motif for inspiration. The finial form in Jaray’s painting takes a central role, but is a simplified structure, allowing the triangular forms to be the focus against an infinite background of colour.



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

  • Tess Jaray, Untitled, 1966.
    Untitled is one of the several pencil drawings that feature within the S|2 exhibition. One can observe Jaray’s working method and practice, as it presents the artist’s experimentation with several compositions, yet still retaining the consistent motif or emblem. The drawings appear to be preliminary sketches for a larger work such as Finial



     



    Tess Jaray
    24 November 2017 - 26 January 2018 | London

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