A new exhibition dedicated to one of the most important artists of her generation presents her development over the past seven years, including a never-before-seen work.
Continuing its ongoing exploration of contemporary painting, the City of Cannes currently presents an exhibition devoted to the English painter Fiona Rae. Through 24 April 2022, thirty-seven paintings on display at the Centre d’Art La Malmaison on Cannes’ La Croisette show the artist’s latest research into abstract forms, bright colours and psychedelic drawings, created between 2014 and 2021.
Labeled the “Many-Colour’d Messenger”, Fiona Rae is no stranger to prestigious venues: her work has been shown in public and private collections such as the Centre Pompidou in France, the Tate Collection and the Royal Academy of Arts in the United Kingdom, and Mudam in Luxembourg, to name but a few. Born in Hong Kong in 1963, she pursued her artistic career in Britain where she quickly distinguished herself, rising to prominence in the 1990s.
Throughout her career, she has been known for having a portfolio of work that includes elements of energy, and complexity. Her work is known for aiming at expanding the modern traditions of painting, following in the footsteps of Kandinsky and the pioneers of abstraction while distilling Pop Art emanations.
The seven-year journey shown at La Malmaison begins in 2014 when Rae temporarily questions her relationship with colour and abandons the shapes and colours that had previously characterised her work. In the Greyscale series, bright, almost fluorescent pigments give way to three tones: black, white and grey. The canvas is nonetheless animated, the painter succeeding in making this restricted palette vibrate.
Colour is reintroduced in 2015, illuminating stormy skies. And shortly thereafter, black is eliminated altogether. In the “Word” series – her most recent work – letters and words appear, attesting to the existence of two distinct languages. By bringing these two communication techniques together, the painter highlights the importance of the expressive dimension of the work, the medium becoming an intermediary between the artist and the visitor.
For Fiona Rae, painting is language, an eminently personal language, and it is through it and through each mark of colour that she reveals her questions, her exclamation marks, and her states of mind. “I spend my life making paintings because I think it’s a reasonable and optimistic response to the difficulty of being,” she says. She intends her paintings to link the inner and outer worlds where the fairy tales she invents are confronted with contemporary society that allow us, for a short time, to escape the real world.
And there are messages for those who know how to read them. Her 2021 oil and acrylic on canvas “What we do now echoes in eternity”, which is presented to the public for the first time ever, is a poignant reminder of the current state of affairs and the impact we personally and collectively have on the course of history.
— William Corwin, art critic
Centre d’art La Malmaison
47 boulevard de la Croisette
Tel: +33 (0)4 97 06 45 21
Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm
Closed on 25 December 2021 and 1 January 2022
All sanitary regulations in force at the time of your visit apply.
All images courtesy Ville de Cannes unless otherwise credited
Lead image screenshot from YouTube
What we do now echoes in eternity
Huile et acrylique sur toile
152.4 x 127 cm
© Photography Antony Makinson at Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
© Fiona Rae
Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Bruxelles