After Damascus Purple

by Tess Jaray RA

We are proud to present a selection of paintings from 2008–2009 by Tess Jaray RA, on show in the Belle Shenkman Room on the ground floor of the Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, from 1st February – 18th August 2019.

Please note that, if purchased, this work is available for collection only from the Royal Academy of Arts by appointment with the Art Sales team.

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Artwork details

Medium Painting
Colour Purple/Multicolour
Dimensions 75 x 88cm
Fabric & material Acrylic/Paper

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Artwork description

Throughout her long and highly esteemed career Tess Jaray’s work has been characterised by the use of precise and pure colour combinations, a near-perfection of surface, and the creation of a particular quality of space and light. Although geometric form is always evident in her imagery, it is perhaps more to do with the geometry of relationships than of mathematics. With wide-ranging influences, including pre-historic and Egyptian art, Jaray says that her paintings ‘may be seen as abstract – whatever that may be – but they are never abstracted’.

This acrylic and paper work on a panel is one of a group of paintings made by Jaray following a trip to Syria before the civil war broke out in 2011. Jaray was profoundly influenced by the landscape and architecture of Damascus, in particular, its mosques, the pillars and arches of the courtyards in the Old City, and the River Barada, much of which is concealed underground. Her memories of Syria – and in turn, the paintings produced after her visit – took on another dimension and greater weight given the destruction and conflict which has since ensued.

This is one of a series of works named after the capital city of Syria. In these paintings, Tess Jaray repeats a central form which represents the interior and exterior archways of the city’s numerous mosques, some of which date back to the seventh century.

The starting point for these works was a digital drawing made by the artist. The vibrant background colour is then screen-printed onto paper to achieve a near-perfect surface. This paper is then professionally laser-cut from the drawing which achieves a precise line unachievable through hand-cutting. Finally, the paper is mounted onto a painted panel, so that the background colour shines through. Jaray taught herself to use a computer in this way to create her work and has been using this technique for around 20 years. 

Artist Sales: This work is sold by the artist. The sale is facilitated by RA Enterprises (RAE) for which they receive only a commission from the artist.

About Tess Jaray RA

Tess Jaray RA studied at St Martin’s School of Art 1954 - 1957 and the Slade School of Art 1957 - 1960, where she later taught for many years.

She has artworks in public collections such as the Tate and the British Museum, and her paving designs can be seen in Centenary Square, Birmingham, and the forecourt of Victoria Station. In... Go to artist page