We are delighted to present an exhibition by British painter Fiona Rae (*1963 in Hong Kong, lives in London), for the first time on show at Buchmann Lugano.

The paintings in this exhibition are part of the most recent group of works by Fiona Rae, begun in 2014 with a number of charcoal drawings. The initial paintings from this series consequently started out as greyscale works, completely omitting colour and concentrating solely on the calligraphic flow of the brush. The largest format is limited to a size that makes it possible for the painter to maintain control over the entire canvas from a single standpoint; she is able to cover the whole canvas with one sweep of a brush. The intense calligraphic lines radiate with the same force from the canvas as we find in the drawings. They seem spontaneous and yet at the same time placed with discipline and precision.

The large work Figure 2a is the first painting in the series to reintroduce colour in the foreground while keeping the backdrop in greyscale. This emphasizes the colour and creates a new concentration and dynamism in the constellation of figure and ground, surface and line. Further development of this approach can be seen in the smaller format paintings Figment 2u, Figment 3b and Figment 3c. As regards the titles for the new paintings, Rae uses a taxonomic system: Figure 1a, Figure 1b, etc. In this way she creates a distance between the painting and the title, enabling the viewer to concentrate on contemplating the pure painting. Still, Fiona Rae’s signature remains clearly recognizable in these new works, evidence of the many visual codes and tropes she has developed and made her own over the years.

These new paintings make clear what Fiona Rae means when she says: “I see these paintings as suggesting the presence of a figure, whilst simultaneously insisting on its absence; the paintings remain abstract. I want the urgency of paint marks and gestures made only by the hand; the need to make a mark that goes back thousands of years.”