Artist biography

British painter. She completed a foundation course at Croydon College of Art (1983–4), and a BFA at Goldsmiths College, London (1984–7). Her reputation was quickly established; a year after her inclusion in the exhibition Freeze (curated by fellow artist Damien Hirst in 1988), she showed at the Waddington Galleries in London. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1991. Rae makes highly coloured, vivid abstract paintings that draw on and develop a variety of formal, painterly motifs. Common to all her work is the self-conscious juxtaposition of flat areas of colour with dragged, daubed or scumbled paint marks. Although her compositions can appear accidental, almost arbitrary, close inspection reveals a highly controlled handling of paint and style and a tight underlying structure. As her work developed throughout the 1990s it became still more structured, and focused in a more condensed manner on certain motifs. Untitled (Parliament) (oil and acrylic on canvas, 2.74×2.44 m, 1996; London, Saatchi Gal.) presents varied target motifs, perhaps referring to paintings made in the early 1960s by Kenneth Noland, floating in a furious field of black and white. The stillness and formal calm of the circles plays off the chaos of their surround, an instance of the strongly antithetical juxtapositions that Rae often employs. Her approach to painting is based on a playful engagement with her predecessors, using both quotation and a repertoire of surface effects to suggest both the superficiality and self-absorption of the act of painting.

Bibliography
Fiona Rae (exh. cat., New York, John Good Gal., 1994)
Fiona Rae (exh. cat., essay R. Shone, Berlin, Contemp. F. A., 1996)
Fiona Rae/Gary Hume (exh. cat., essay S. Kent, London, Saatchi Gal., 1997)

JOHN-PAUL STONARD
10 December 2000

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