Tania Kovats

Tania Kovats

March - October 2015

HS Projects are delighted to present a group of works by acclaimed British artist Tania Kovats. Kovats is renowned for producing sculptures, large scale installations and temporal works which explore our experience and understanding of landscape and finds in the natural world both her subject and material. She approaches the natural environment both in terms of identifiable places – sites that can be mapped, named, inhabited and scrutinised – and as matter with properties that can be subjected to external forces and potential transformations.

Kovats’ barnacle-encrusted Colony (2009) developed from her 2009 residency in the Galapagos Islands. Fascinated by barnacles as creatures that dwell – both literally and figuratively - in the spaces between sea and land, rock and animal, and liquid and solid, the artist also discovered within their capacity to self-generate and form colonies a metaphor for the rapid social, urban, and ecological developments occurring on Galapagos.

Kovats’ Tilted (2002) exposes the artist’s keen interest in the rugged drama of coastal landscapes. Contained within the exposed rock cliff faces are turbulent geological forces, which cut a stark line between light and dark, interior and exterior. By embedding the cliff within the architecture of a modernist plinth, Kovats uses an element of the landscape to attack the solidity of the white cube, subjecting it to the forces by which it was created. This ‘tilted’ cliff, as a boundary between land and sea, alludes to Kovats’ interest in oceans, a topic that comes to preoccupy much of her later work.

In her series of Schist (2001) sculptures, Kovats’ use of wax, a material that is both responsive and malleable, allows for works that ooze and sweat, stretching in ways that result in physical abnormalities. Exhibited at a height at which they can be closely studied, Kovats encourages the eye to follow the layers of wax as they ripple and undulate, as well as the flakes of glitter which intersperse the coloured folds. On viewing these metamorphic sculptures, one becomes aware of Kovats’ exploration of both the artificial and the organic.

To make these works, Kovats used Mountain (2001), the design of which she based on a machine invented around 1900. Kovats poured colours of molten wax into the machine, allowing it to cool and set into sedimentary layers. She subsequently placed lead shot on top of the strata to act like a gravitational force to contain the layers, so that when she turned the mechanism’s handle, the piston, moving forward with a force like a tectonic plate, compressed the wax into hulking folds and ripples.

Kovats has shown extensively in the UK and abroad, with solo shows including those at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield; Peer Arts, London and Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall. Group shows include those at BALTIC, Gateshead; Hayward Gallery, London; Tate Liverpool; V&A, London; Museum Of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Kettle's Yard, Cambridge; Kunstraum Innsbruck and ICA, London, amongst many others. Her sculptures and drawings feature in numerous public and private collections including the Arts Council, The British Council, Government Art Collection and the V&A.

Kovats has recently completed a residency in the Astronomy Department at the University of Cambridge, for which she built a site-specific commission. She is Course Director for MA Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art, London. She was awarded the Henry Moore Drawing Fellowship in 2004 to 2005 and was Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Oxford University in 2006.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s campaign to acquire and care for coastal land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Kovats has been commissioned by the NT to create a digital artwork which will respond to the coastal landscape in the UK. This is scheduled to go live in November 2015. Kovats has also been awarded the Cape Farewell Lovelock Art Commission for 2015.

Kovats will also be on show during the Venice Biennale 2015 as part of the group exhibition VITA VITALE at the Palazzo Garzoni.