Fiona Rae

Untitled (grey and brown)


In Tate Modern

Fiona Rae born 1963
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2133 × 1981 mm
Purchased 1991

Display caption

In the early 1990s Fiona Rae started painting big, busy paintings which feature a wide range of colours. Does this picture seem chaotic or messy at first glance? In fact, every element has been carefully considered by the artist. Look closer at the different kinds of marks that Rae has made with the paint. You’ll be able to spot thick brush strokes, dribbled liquid paint, and even patches smeared with a fingertip. You might also see recognisable shapes or images. Rae borrows the techniques and ideas of other artists and combines them with pictures and styles taken from popular culture. For the artist, ‘any one kind of painting language is ... as interesting as another’.

Gallery label, November 2021

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Technique and condition

Painted in oil on primed cotton canvas, the linked episodes of painting occupies the whole of the canvas.

The artist prepared the canvas by stretching medium weight cotton duck, supplied by Russell & Chapple onto a stretcher made by D.W. Stretchers. The canvas is sized with two coats of rabbit-skin glue and primed with Spectrum Thixotropic Alkyd Primer. The ground colour is thinned oil paint.

Executed over a period of a few days, Rae used artists' oil paint made by Sennelier and Schevengingen, 'Old Holland' paint. These were mixed with a wide variety of painting media including waxes, oils, resin varnishes and alkyd painting media. Rae experimented with these additives to modify the qualities of her paints which she generally applied with brushes, using masking tape to define the flatter hard edged forms. The complex surface incorporates work in charcoal and pastel.

The painting is neither varnished or framed.

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