2006 Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
2005 Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin (catalogue)
Sadie Coles HQ, London
2003 Heads, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
Oeuvres Récentes, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris
2002 Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
2001 Galeria Camargo Vilaca, Sao Paulo
2000 Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris
1999 Sadie Coles HQ, London
Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
1998 Kunsthalle Zurich (catalogue)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris
1997 Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York (catalogue)
1995 Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
Entwistle Gallery, London
Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
1993 Trial Balloon, New York
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Tate Gallery, London
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, North Carolina
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
14 Jan – 14 Feb 2009
Nicola Tyson conjures complex figurative entities in the process of becoming, transforming or collapsing into something else. Her work exhibits a distinctive and instantly recognisable subjectivity even as it complicates assumptions about its nature and its supposed boundaries. She finds her images initially through intuitive, free-associative drawing. Yet her approach is not conventionally expressionistic as she transforms 'personal material' into an elemental component alongside texture, palette, and scale. For Tyson, painting is the perfect medium as it simultaneously operates on the retinal, the visceral, and the intellectual levels. The image constantly shifts and reforms in our act of looking at it.
Barry Schwabsky has written recently about Tyson's work: "These paintings are images of the body in terms, not of one's own subjectivity, but in terms of another, observing subjectivity. In painting the sensations of the self rather than its visual gestalt, Tyson may seem to come close to Expressionism - and the distortions of the features of the neurologist's homunculus also recall Expressionism, in that case as a sort of unintentional pastiche - but the difference is that Tyson does not appeal to pure subjectivism, as one might imagine would be the case with an art that depicts corporeal experience from the inside out. Because Tyson's art is stretched between two subjectivities it does not fall into solipsism. Such an art reminds us that, somehow or other, we experience other people from the inside out too.” As opposed to the existential angst of the British post-war figuration to which her work has sometimes been linked, Tyson consistently explores the generative potential and value of play. She says "I use the figure as a sort of playground. I rearticulate it and reanimate it in unlikely ways, I inhabit it." Though she happens to be female, and therefore operates from within those co-ordinates, the notion of the individual, its gender and its psychological story is both primary and incidental in her approach.
In this her fourth show at Sadie Coles HQ Tyson continues her particular engagement with the genre of figurative painting, exhibiting six large canvases, a gouache piece and a series of drawings.
19 Jan – 19 Feb 2005
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.
4 Mar - 3 April 1999: new paintings/ works on paper
Nicola Tyson uses the traditional medium of figurative painting and drawing to pursue an examination of identity, gender and sexuality. In her earlier work isolated solitary figures were caught in the tightly controlled space of the painting, twisting and turning, morphing themselves into the androgynous mutations of familiar appendages and fleshy parts.
For the paintings in this exhibition Tyson has switched from oil to the medium of acrylic. The images are looser and more abstracted, less iconic, and closer in their immediacy and spontaneity to her charcoal and graphite drawings. Libidinous fragments like Top spin through a chaotic landscape and View #1 introduces the fecund metaphor of landscape as a signifier for the body, an environment which is as much an ejaculatory eruption as the ‘figures’ themselves.
A sense of play is important to Tyson’s process allowing an exploration of the primal compulsion to quite simply ‘give image to’ something, and in so far as her images are all partial self- portraits, to represent herself. Tyson’s perspective as an artist is undeniably shaped by the feminist approach of the last decade. However, where much of that work was coming out of an attempt to give theoretical form to the relatively unarticulated realm of ‘female subjectivity‘, to speak for all of us as it were, Tyson feels it productive to utilise an intuitive and personal approach to representation.
In addition to the painting installation at Sadie Coles HQ on Heddon Street, a group of large charcoal drawings will be exhibited off-site at 21 Ganton Street. These drawings are bursts of unpremeditated and feverish graphic activity that reveal the multitude of possibility from which the paintings spring.
Nicola Tyson is a British artist who studied at Chelsea and St Martin’s but has lived and worked in New York since 1990. A major survey if her work was exhibited at Zurich Kunsthalle in 1998. This is her third London exhibition.