Virginia Verran
Virginia VerranSections of text from Catalogues:

Ten -Year Retrospective at the Henie Onstad Kunstsentre Oslo Norway 1999
Catalogue essay by Richard Kendall
ISBN: 82-90955-35-9

Whatever else Virginia Verran’s complex artistic activity involves, it thrives on extremity and caprice, on utter seriousness lightly camouflaged and wit lurking within sobriety.

...Phase No.1 presents her range of manouvres at their boldest, in slabs of deep and cool colour that reach out to the farthest edges of the canvas and in disconcerting games with gravity and weightlessness... could this be another dimension, a miniaturised world of flashing signals and silent surveillance? Or one that is spectral, a hideous space of apparitions and robotic threat ? Our fears are subtly countered in a companion work where we rediscover Verran the ambitious and ambiguous colourist. Now a lemon-ochre light floods the scene, carrying us deeper into the urban blaze or outwards into a bleak, sun-scoured wilderness. In Pulse 1993 and a number of contemporary pale-toned canvasses, the ambiguities of Verran’s art find a less intrusive register... If there is little manifest threat in these works, some uncertainty is discreetly woven into their fabric, from the row of needle-like threads that intrude from the right in Pulse to the shrouded central presence in the Shift paintings. Modest though such features are, they cannot easily be reconciled with a pastoral reading of the works in question, nor with a crudely analytical approach to their achievement. The red and white wires in Pulse are insistently alien, definitely uncertain in purpose, scale and origin. Even at this restrained level, the artist must probe and destabilise, challenging not only our engagement with art but our fundamental grasp of cognition and metaphor.

...Images of breasts, pin-balls, flourescent lights, kitchen equipment, pierced flesh and rubber bands, may- or just as plausibly, may not- be present in such works as Painting No.2 (Red) 1997 and Painting No.4 (Brown/Red) ....Such intensely personal proceedures can lend themselves to autobiography, to a rapport with the artist’s private grief and jubilation that will always, by the nature of the strange contract between painter and viewer, remain unknowable. Where the rotund shapes in Painting No.4 Brown/Red 1997 might suggest frivolity or a kind of pictorial hysteria, and the torso or pillar-like structure in Black/Grey No.1 may seem desperate. Verran allows some sobriety to the former and a hint of wild technological wit to the latter, forever denying resolution or closure of meaning.

...At a time when painting itself is in deep crisis, she has achieved the near impossible by defining her own distinctive territory, one that not only gives maximum access to the discord around her but encourages her to exploit and occasionally mock it, to divert it to her dense expressive ends and discover in it unexpected moments of lyricism. In refusing to side with pure formalism on the one hand and narrative or description on the other, she has bravely taken up arms against decisiveness itself, preferring obliquity to directness, indeterminacy to precision, the insinuation and the poetic conceit to the clarity of prose.


Virginia Verran: Solo Exhibition at Francis Graham-Dixon Gallery, London 1995, Catalogue text by Mel Gooding.

...Verran’s painting is both cool and personal, intuitive and determined; and profoundly original. It emerges out of a process in which certainties and precisions are subtly transformed into indeterminacies, and object and space are in a constantly ambiguous relation. The image is as much the consequence of a movement away from its definition as tgowards it, as if we were witnessing its unpainting, its disappearance, even as it approaches visible modality: it is marvellously held in a state of imprecision, poised between reolution and irresolution. In this Vewrran’s proceedures imitate those of language in its seeking for the illusive definition or description of that condition for which we have no name but whose reality is a constant of our existence.

Selected Bibliography:
Nine British Artists, ArtReview by David Lee
Virginia Verran, New Work, Francis Graham-Dixon Gallery, catalogue essay by Tony Godfrey
The European, London Exhibitions
The Guardian, Critics Choice, Tim Hilton
The Sunday Telegraph, John McEwen
Time Out, Sue Hubbard
Daily Telegraph, Whitechapel Open, John McEwen
At the Edge, New Paintings by Virginia Verran, catalogue essay by Mel Gooding
The Times, Around the Galleries, Nicholas Drake
Art Review, London Reviews
Modern Painters, Galleries, Spring
The Independent, Exhibitions, Iain Gale
Sunday Telegraph, Art, John McEwen
The Times, Around the Galleries, Sacha Craddock
The Independent, Pick of the Day
The Independent, Iain Gale on Exhibitions
The Sunday Telegraph, 'Free-Range is better than Battery' review of exhibition by John Mc Ewen
Financial Times, "Painted into the Corner", William Packer,
John Moores 20. Selected by Cornelia Parker, Mel Gooding, Louisa Buck, Decklan McGonagle, George Melly
The Observer, William Feaver on Whitechapel Open
The Independent on Sunday, Tim Hilton, Whitechapel Open
The Sunday Telegraph, Critics Choice, John McEwen
Richard Kendall, catalogue essay for Heine-Onstad exhibition
Contemporary Visual Arts Magazine, review by Sue Hubbard
Major Reviews In Norwegian Daily papers
3rd July: Radio Interview for the Cultural Station (equivalent of Radio 3)
The Sunday Telegraph, Critics Choice, John McEwen
The Financial Times, William Packer
British Abstract Painting. Introduction by Matthew Collings, published by Flowers East, London.
2003 Hunting Prize: Royal College of Art Reviews in Cornish newspapers: The West Britain, The Falmouth Packet, The Cornishman
2005 Short Stories About Painting : Exhibition book edited by Jeffrey Dennis. Interviews with the artists and with accompanying DVD. Also with contributions including : Martin Holman, AP Fitzpatrick and Jon Archdeacon, Stephen Farthing, Martin Holman, Tony Godfrey, Tate Conservation Dept.
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