Gillian Ayres
Rachel Jones
Nao Matsunaga

21 Sep – 17 Nov 2019

New Art Centre is delighted to announce an exhibition of work by the late Gillian Ayres CBE RA and Rachel Jones who is the current recipient of The Chinati Foundation Residency in Marfa, Texas. She has graduated from the Royal Academy Schools this year, citing Ayres as an influence. Their paintings will be shown alongside new sculpture by Nao Matsunaga. The language used by each of these three artists creates a unique bridge between the past and their present.


Gillian Ayres (b. 1930, London, England. d. 2018, Devon, England) used titles to reference the mood of a completed painting rather than describing a precise motif in the work. The often-enigmatic names of the vibrant, heavily worked canvases, give an insight into the artist's deep connection with history. A love of reading and trips to the National Gallery during the Second World War inspired Ayres to paint. Whilst Ayres created works with "no composition" the precision taken in naming each piece gives the viewer a direct reference point for the final work. Her varied interests are reflected in the titles of the works from folksong 'Green Grow the Rushes, O' to 'Will Summers', the best-known court jester of Henry VIII.


Rachel Jones (b. 1991, London, England) abstains from using long descriptive texts for her exhibitions, opting instead to use quotes or references found in her research into the depiction of black figures in the arts from the 1700s to the present day. Jones creates a series of works using the same title and each piece reiterates a current concern of the artist; chapters and periods are created in her body of work by these biographical demarcations. The most recent series, 'Spliced Structure', 2019, develops her interest "in using motifs and colour as a way to communicate ideas about the interiority of black bodies and their lived experience."


Nao Matsunaga (b. 1980, Osaka, Japan) takes inspiration from primitive cultures and shared traditions. His work has focused on how humans have interacted with their surroundings since prehistoric times. Matsunaga's practice allows materials to dictate their form. When whittling wood, he stops once the fabric begins to resist, explaining that this produces the strongest structures for his work. By marrying this traditional method of making to titles using song, modern vernacular and colloquialisms, Matsunaga analyses how ancient ways of being are continuing to frame contemporary lives.


Gillian Ayres, Green Grow the Rushes, O, 1990
Rachel Jones, Spliced Structure, 2019