Keith Tyson: Twenty Years of Studio Wall Drawings Jerwood Gallery

The Turner Prize-winning artist Keith Tyson is to exhibit works at the Jerwood Gallery early in 2017. The critically acclaimed gallery in Hastings is to host an exhibition of work by the 2002 Turner Prize Winner, Keith Tyson. Keith Tyson: Turn Back Now will open to the public on 28 January 2017, and will feature multitude works that form a visual diary of Tyson’s practice – many of which have never been publically exhibited before.

Keith – who is locally based near Brighton – explains the background to the exhibition, “I began making Studio Wall Drawings in 1997 when I was sharing a studio with four other artists in South East London. Being very short on funds, my section of the building was particularly small and I had a limited area in which to work. Wall space was especially scarce; two sides of the room were glazed while another had to be used for storing my tools and paints. This only left a solitary wall on which to work and a small area between the windows where I could pin a single large sheet of watercolour paper to a board and scribble down notes, ideas and sketches. Eventually, the sheet would become too cluttered with information and I’d have to change it.  I discarded the sheets in the corner forming what looked like a large pile of Persian rugs. 

“Over time I began to think of these drawings more as works in their own right. I enjoyed the free space they provided me with – existing somewhere in-between a sketchbook, a journal, a poem and a painting – I found that I could work unhindered by the self-conscious restraint I’d often felt while working on canvas. I started to record world events in addition to personal ones. Economic shifts, acts of terrorism, the birth of my children or a psychotic episode were all triggers for drawings.  I recorded people’s visits to the studio. I tried to capture nebulous and fleeting ideas that were not yet fully formed.  Other times I would simply paint something for the sheer pleasure of it – A painting of a flower, a geometric pattern or just doodling. In 2000 the late curator Harald Szeemann visited my studio and looked through the pile of drawings – he asked me to show a room of them in the Venice Biennale – an exhibition that established them publicly as a part of my practice.”

Shown together the drawings form a record of passing time. “I prefer to exhibit them in solid blocks and arrange them associatively rather than chronologically. This is how the mind and memory seem to work. Proustian, non-linear and yet anything but random – I’m often amazed at how the drawings so obviously predict my future direction long before I am consciously aware of it.”

“The nature and style of the drawings have changed dramatically over the last 20 years, just as I have. Although each drawing records a specific moment from my life, as a whole, they also reflect societal changes over that time too.  The emergence of smartphones and social media has radically changed the context in which the work appears. It has become commonplace now to post daily pictures and accompanying texts on one’s digital ‘wall’  but I still am constantly surprised and rewarded by this simple practice of working daily on paper.”

Jerwood Gallery Director Liz Gilmore says “We are thrilled because this exhibition brings 20 years of work together, not much of which has been seen before. It will be a real revelation of the working practices of an artist of the calibre of Keith Tyson. 

Keith Tyson was born in 1969 in Ulverston, Cumbria. After leaving school at 15 he began working as an apprentice engineer making nuclear submarines. Deciding to pursue art, he quit the shipyards and gained admission to the Carlisle College of Art, graduating in 1990. He earned his BA in Alternative Practice at the University of Brighton in 1993. Incorporating systems of logic, scientific methodology and chance into his artistic output, Keith Tyson is concerned with generative systems, and the complexity and interconnectedness of existence. He works in a wide range of media including painting, drawing, and sculpture. Keith Tyson has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Turner Prize in 2002. His work can be found in private and public collections worldwide, including Tate Modern (London), Arts Council Collection (London), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), MOMA (New York), Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, Foundation Francois Pinault (Venice) and much more. More information at www.


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