In both her paintings and drawings Nicola Tyson strikes an intriguing balance between the abstract and figurative. Her figures combine elements of both the comic and the grotesque. Figure Running is an imposing mountain of flesh, possessed with a primal energy, but, with a precarious balance, pin head and helplessly short arms, this strength is undercut by a sense of vulnerability. This dichotomy recurs throughout Tyson’s gallery of portraits. The objective head and shoulders shots of the passport booth are rendered subjective via the expressive distortion of their features. Limbless, bizarrely proportioned figures, at once amorphous and angular emerge as sexualized beings.
Within the paintings strident tones seem to be Tyson’s main means of articulating psychological depth, but within the black and white drawings it becomes plain that form plays an equally significant role. To the freeness of line and apparent spontaneity depth and determination are added via shading. Their automatic aspect forges links with the surrealists, extended further via the sexual edge and psychological bent that underscores both Tyson’s drawings and paintings.
Nicola Tyson was born in 1960 in London and lives and works in New York. This is her second exhibition with Sadie Coles HQ. Her work was included in 2004 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy and her work is in the collection of the Tate in London and many public collections in the US including San Francisco Museum of Art, Walker Art Centre and Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The exhibition will travel to the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin, 25 June – 4 Aug 2005. A catalogue will be published.