b. 1960 London, UK
Lives and works in New York, NY, US
For over three decades, Nicola Tyson’s influential explorations of embodiment and the female form have spanned not just painting, but also sculpture, drawing, and the written word. The artist distorts our experiences of identity and the structures which determine them—gender, sexuality, and (non-)humanity. Her biomorphic figures and painterly surfaces rattle our expectations of what bodies are, what they can do, and how they should be represented.
Tyson’s work investigates what Julia Kristeva calls “the I that is not I.” The artist probes those abject features of identity and embodiment that are simultaneously threatening, unnerving, revolting—and mesmerizing. She works with rich, bold palettes of acrylic paint to create visual worlds that teeter at the border of mimesis and formlessness. Upon first glance, clownishly distorted figures read as humorous and sometimes ebullient. But their whimsy belies an arresting intensity. Within her canvases, mannequin-like, segmented torsos glitch into abstraction, limbs unfurl like tendons or twigs, and faces devolve into fractal abstractions. Tyson likes to work with fleshy peaches, tans, and browns, and to leave small segments of her canvases bare, as though the paint were a layer of lacerated or degrading skin. Working in—and sometimes ironizing—a lineage of artists that includes Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, and Hans Bellmer, Tyson toys with her surfaces and the figures that emerge within them, figures which are visceral but not quite human, that are dreamlike and beguiling.
Nicola Tyson (b. 1960 London, UK; lives and works in New York, NY, US) attended the Chelsea School of Art, St. Martins School of Art, and Central/St. Martins School of Art in London, UK. Since, she has had numerous solo shows, including at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, US; The Drawing Room, London, UK; the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH, US; Sadie Coles HQ, London, UK; and Petzel Gallery, New York, NY, US; among many others. She has participated in group exhibitions at The Drawing Center, New York, NY, US; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; Neue Galerie, Graz, AT, and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, US; among others. Tyson’s work is collected by institutions worldwide, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, US; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, US; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US; the Tate Gallery, London, UK; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, US; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, US, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, US. Tyson has been featured in various publications including The Guardian, The New Yorker, Artforum, and Bordercrossings.