Vanessa Jackson RA British, b. 1953

Vanessa Jackson RA, b. 1953 


Vanessa Jackson, on first reading, appears to take the most formal approach to painting, but her use of geometry and its three dimensional function deny the supposed flatness of modernist space. For Jackson music and the visual arts go hand in hand, inextricably linked in their ability to transcend space and serve as abstract surfaces on which musicians and artists can make their mark. Her connection with music is not a direct relationship in which one informs the other, instead they exist in harmonious coexistence through their similarities. 


The very act of painting is physical and requires interaction between painter and paint, akin to that between musician and instrument. The effect on their audience can also be physical. Just like music induces dance, creating a sense of movement is key to Jackson’s paintings. This is clear in her recent work Terpsichoral. A play on the adjective terpsichorean, meaning ‘relating to dance’, large-scale trapezoids and circular segments interact through colour and space, their repeated shapes overlapping at carefully positioned angles in such a way that it appears they might begin to shift on the canvas at any moment.


In Notes, a series of smaller-scale canvases produced simultaneously, repeated shapes and strands of colour connect the paintings despite their isolation on individual canvases. In this sense, although each work exists as a single and abstract ‘note’, they can also be combined and heard together as a chord. And, just as a composer’s choice of chords has the ability to cause a psychological and physical effect on its audience, so too does Jackson’s use of geometry and colour. 


Elected a Royal Academician in 2015, Jackson trained at St Martin’s School of Art 1971-1975 and Royal College of Art from 1975-1978. She has worked as a senior tutor at the Royal Academy Schools, 1998-2013 and a visiting lecturer at a range of colleges including Goldsmiths, The Slade, The Royal College and The Royal Academy. She has work in the following collections, Portman Estates, New Directions Publishing USA, J Paul Getty Museum, USA, Imperial College, London, Eastern Arts Association, T I Group, Prudential Insurance, USA, Hampshire County Council, The National Museum and Arts Gallery, Botswana., Royal College of Art and Royal Academy of Art.