Tess Rafael | Sponge Setting

December 2, 2017 - January 15, 2018

Opening reception: Saturday, December 2nd, 3-6 pm


“Our first and last walk uphill
was for possession of two yellowing plums,” she said.

“No, two brown flowers,” he said.
“Okay. Two brown flowers.

We climbed slowly toward the house of destiny…”

“No, no, the temple of chance…” he said.

“All right. Toward the temple of chance.
And in the other direction, two stones rolled downhill,” she said.

“Billiard balls. They were billiard balls,” he said.

“Oh yes, I recall. It was exactly then,
that I made fun of your sunburn,” she said.

“And dropped the plums,” he said.1


It is the formation, not the form, that remains mysterious. The building material seeps through in slow formation. A soft secretion that lays down the roots of the colors, the calcareous prisms, the “successive layers of mucus [that] spread a coating as thin as a soap bubble over the deep, twisted cavity.” As such the shell appears in its contradictions, “so rough outside and so soft, so pearly, in its intimacy.” There is no hylomorphic edge separating its form from in-formation. There is no scentless liquid of the receptacle which receives the triangles and other figures as they change without taking their shape. The liquid hardens into form.2

Tess Rafael is an artist who explores painting as a ground for non-linear experience. Her work draws upon notions of liquidity, proprioception, emotional landscapes, neural pathways, the history of image-making, adaptive transformation, and the interplay between cognition and sensation.

Rafael holds a BA in Urban Studies with a focus in Archaeology and Architecture from Brown University and has studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University. She has exhibited internationally, including Donna’s, Mr. Fine Art, and 109 Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Field Contemporary and Sunset Terrace, Vancouver, BC; Projet Pangée, Montréal, QC, and Palazzo Querini Stampalia, Venice, IT. Her recently completed artist book, Looping #2, will be exhibited at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in December 2017. She currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC.

1. Mark Yakich, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross, 2004
2. Ada Smailbegović, Some Disordered Interior Geometries, 2016