Nicola Tyson, Beyond the Trace

28 September – 12 November 2017

A solo exhibition of drawings by Nicola Tyson

Drawing Room is pleased to announce an exhibition of works on paper by Nicola Tyson, a British artist based in New York. Tyson is predominantly known in the UK as a painter, although she also works with photography, performance, the written word and more recently sculpture. Drawing is the foundation of her practice.

Beyond the Trace will be the first solo exhibition in the UK of Tyson’s drawings.  It will include a range of work: sketchbook pages; ‘daily drawings’, made since 2015 and posted on social media; large graphite drawings; and life-sized ink drawings made especially for this exhibition. Working intuitively and from memory, these gestural pencil drawings are a reimagining of the female body; they are highly animated, androgynous, self-contained and surreal.

“When I begin to draw, I have no idea what’s going to appear. I work swiftly, to stay just ahead of the cage of language, the linear mind and rational decision-making. I just let the forms grow themselves, self-organize…”

Tyson’s pencil figures and heads are mainly isolated on the page, and morph odd appendages that are part human, part animal.  These malformed bodies with spindly legs and club-feet might sprout a bird-like beak, or a hollow-eyed figure looks out gauntly under the heavy weight of hair descending into the form of a billowing dress. Combining both lightly and heavily worked graphite lines, figures stand tall on their lightly drawn horizon line, looking out to meet our scrutiny. In their absurdity and humour these drawings express the vulnerability of the body subjected to our gaze.

In the late 1970s and early 80s Tyson was involved in London’s post punk music scene, taking photographs in underground clubs whilst studying at Chelsea College of Art.  For a short time she worked as a journalist for the music press, returning to study painting at Central St Martins in the mid-1980s. She moved to New York in the early 90s. 

Nicola Tyson (b. 1960, London) has exhibited internationally. Forthcoming and recent solo exhibitions include: Sadie Coles HQ, London (2017); The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis (2017); Living Dangerously, Cleveland Institute of Art; Petzel, New York, (2016).  Group exhibitions include The Marked Self: Self-Portraits between Annihilation and Masquerade, Neue Galerie Graz, Austria (2015); The Nakeds, Drawing Room, London (2014), toured to De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, and The Cat Show, White Columns, New York (2013).

Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Corcoran Gallery of Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Tate Gallery, London.