The first thing that crossed my mind when I discovered Jessica Wilson’s paintings was: “wow, this has a Mary Heilmann spirit- and Mary is definitely one of the cool girls”-, the link I created between Wilson and Heilmann was strong enough to make me want to stay and found out her similarities and differences. Curiously, one of Wilson’s projects is her imaginary exhibition entitled, ‘Mary, Blinky, Jessica, Yay!’, where she fantasies about exhibiting her work next to Heilman’s and Palermo’s. This project is not about fulfilling a fantasy but about locating your work where you think it belongs. Wilson’s strategy is to draw parallels between her work and her admired artists in order to justify her name next to them. And she points out to this bond not by focusing on the apparent similar abstract style she shares with both of them (that would have been the easy way to go), but by stressing their shared sensibility. One that is witty, colourful, cold, intelligent, elegant, and fun. Maybe is Mary Heilmann what brought me to Wilson’s art, but what really interests me is her own world. The way she plays with figuration and abstraction, her striking colors colliding with her mysterious titles. Titles that work as short stories. Minimal, but containing a whole universe that we can only decipher by looking. Looking deeply.
Do you think we can gain knowledge through art?
What we can learn is immeasurable. Art makes us question and search. It allows us to place things and to place oneself.
Why painting? And why abstraction?
I’ve always had a love of paint since I was young and my obsession with it continues to grow. For me, painting is discovery.
I wouldn’t describe my work as abstract. They all come from life. They’re translations, just like Ellsworth Kelly’s works are translations of things he’s seen in the world.
Where do you find beauty?
I look to nature first to find beauty but it can be found everywhere, from patterns in weather to music and relationships.
What kind of feelings and ideas do you wish to communicate with your artworks?
For me painting and drawing is about communicating things I don’t have the words for. I don’t have words for how I want the viewer to feel, I just want them to take the time to look, really look.
A fictional character that inspires you
That’s a tricky one to answer as I think I’m most inspired by other artists. Viv Albertine’s autobiography, ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys’ jumps straight to my mind as an inspirational read. Her song that said “Typical girls / Don’t create / Don’t rebel / Have intuition / Can’t decide”? Well, Albertine decided. Creation is the rebellion.
Jessica Wilson (b. 1986) is a British visual artist currently based in Glasgow. Wilson studied Fine Arts at University College Falmouth (UK) before going on to become part of the Turps Banana Painting Programme, an experimental art school in East London, run by Marcus Harvey and Peter Ashton Jones. Since then she has co-founded the artist led initiative The Juncture and had a two person show at Standpoint Gallery, London. She has recently completed a Masters at Glasgow School of Art and was a finalist for the 2015 Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in public and private collections.
All images courtesy of the artist.