Born in 1963 in Hong-Kong, Fiona Rae lives and works in London.
Fiona Rae graduated from Croydon School of Art, London (1984), and Goldsmiths College, London University (1987), alongside Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, and Sarah Lucas, with whom she was part of the Young British Artists group, which allowed for a rebirth of the British art scene in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fiona Rae has become one of the foremost abstract painters of her generation, and is widely represented in prestigious public and private collections, such as the Tate Collection (UK); Royal Academy of Arts (UK); Fond National d'Art Contemporain (France); Centre Pompidou (France); Mudam (Luxembourg); Fundacio Caixa (Spain); Carré d'Art - Musée d'art contemporain of Nîmes (France); le National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC (USA); The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, New York (USA); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. (USA); Astrup Fearnley Museum (Norway); Arts Council England (UK); Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK); British Council (UK); Southampton City Art Gallery (UK); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (UK); University of Warwick Art Collection (UK); Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (Portugal); Contemporary Art Society, London (UK); the Albertina Museum, Vienna (Austria); FRAC Auvergne (France); Fundación Barrié, A Coruña (Spain); Government Art Collection (UK); Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (Germany); the Jerwood Collection, London (UK); Leeds Museums and Galleries (UK); Musée Départemental de Rochechouart, Haute-Vienne (France); Morsbroich Museum, Leverkusen (Germany); National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (USA); and the Sintra Museum of Modern Art (Portugal).
Fiona Rae's work was recently the subject of important solo exhibitions at Centre d’Art La Malmaison, Cannes (France, 2021), at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery (UK, 2014), Southampton City Art Gallery (UK, 2014), Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (UK, 2014), Leeds Art Gallery (UK, 2014), The New Art Gallery, Walsall (UK, 2014), and the Carré d'Art - Musée d'art contemporain in Nîmes (France, 2002) which also published her first important monograph that met with great public and critical success.
Rae's work has also been included in many significant group exhibitions in prestigious institutions, including the Tate Britain (UK, 2019), the Royal Academy of Arts (UK, 2017), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK, 2017), Warwick Arts Centre (UK, 2015), Institute of Contemporary Arts of Singapore (Singapore, 2012), Tate Britain (UK, 2009), Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg, 2008), Hamburger Bahnhof (Germany, 2007), Museum of Contemporary Art (China, 2006), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (Germany, 2003), Tate Liverpool (UK, 2001), Fundacio Caixa (Spain, 2000), Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Portugal, 1997), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Spain, 1996), Hayward Gallery (UK, 1994), Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Netherlands, 1990) and the Venice Biennale (Italy, 1990).
Fiona Rae has been represented by la Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels, since 1994.
For going on 25 years, this British painter has been developing a body of work that is remarkable for its power, for the intensity with which it bestows physical presence on the virtual sign language that forms our everyday environment. In the set of works being shown for the first time, made between 2011 and 2013, Fiona Rae presents dynamic "screens" whose theatre of activity stimulates the viewer's mental projections. This organised chaos offers us a profusion of visual choices, generating fantastic worlds, stimulating complex desires, playing on our bustling preoccupations and anxieties.
Fiona Rae's work incarnates an abstract-pop universe, filled with references to modern and contemporary painting, to pop culture, and to digital technology. Biomorphic forms float at the paintings' surface and bring to mind the surrealist visions of artists like Yves Tanguy, side by side with figurative elements borrowed directly from manga, comics, Walt Disney, Tex Avery- quirky and playful resurgences that recall the work of Philip Guston and Takashi Murakami. The gestural, although organized treatment inscribes it in a form of abstract expressionism, while certain pictorial effects simulate the possibilities offered by Photoshop, revealing a painting practice that is resolutely anchored in her time.
By probing the possibilities of painting, each work refers the viewer to the cartographic space of a mental and physical utopia. The mashing and melding of successive levels, the melee of hybrid forms and signs that impose leaps in scale, figurative motifs like structuring islands to which we adjust our gaze and which fix the space, the conjunction of abstract components, micro-narratives and biomorphic forms, and dotted and lash-like lines imaging the spontaneous fluxes we imagine to be decisive for the work's substance, all form a pictorial archipelago whose raison d'être lies, indeed, in the equilibrium they generate.
Defending a notion of painting as a "romantic, magical thing" that "still has a place and a fascination, especially since the proliferation of technological possibilities", Fiona Rae reflects on our contemporary visual culture, on our common experience whose data, signs, emblems, writings, impressions, and atmospheres she highlights. An "atlas", to borrow the term posited by Nicolas Bourriaud to describe Rae's paintings, in line with the great tradition of American abstraction and pop culture. The visual liberty displayed by the artist from the very beginning, founded on a certain "postmodern" mistrust for painting, was thus able to prevail as the singular, pertinent, and complex expression of a confrontation between many different worlds-a reflection of today's society.