A brush with... Tess Jaray

British painter Tess Jaray talks to Ben Luke about her influences—including those from the worlds of literature, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work.For more than 60 years, Jaray relentlessly explored pictorial and architectural space through abstract painting. Born in Vienna in 1937 but based in the UK since she was a child, she achieved notable success early in her career but is only now gaining the recognition that she has long deserved for building one of the most singular and consistent bodies of work in recent British painting. Steeped in the history of her medium, she balances hard edges and precise handling with a distinctive colour sense that lends it a powerful emotional resonance.

Among much else, she discusses her instinctive response to the landscape of Worcestershire, England, where she grew up; the impact of the New York School on the UK art scene of the 1960s; her trip to Morocco in Henri Matisse’s footsteps; the enduring influence of Italian architecture and painting; and her friendship with the writer W.G. Sebald. Plus, she gives insight into her studio life and answers the ultimate question: what is art for?

Tess Jaray, Karsten Schubert, London, 16 March-15 April. Gwangju Biennale: Soft and Weak Like Water, Gwangju, South Korea, 7 April-9 July.

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