Paul Cézanne - Drawings - Tess Jaray - Roundels | Karsten Schubert

I spent a magical half hour here, in the weakening early autumn sunlight. The viewing room at Karsten Schubert, looking out onto Lexington Street in Soho from an upper floor of an 18th century former townhouse, hosts two utterly different sets of works: Jaray’s mathematical, precise, abstracted pairs of painted roundels, and intimate preparatory sketches and doodles from Cézanne.

It’s more interesting to me how each work relates to the space, rather than how the artists relate to each other. The floorboards in this place are bowed and uneven. The walls damp and slightly smelly. The back room - where the legendary gallerist Schubert, who died last year, used to come and rest, is dark, lamplit even in the early afternoon.

study of heads Study of Heads (c. 1886-87)

We can make out, just, a Cézanne sketch of overpowering intimacy: the sleeping heads of his son Paul and another, unidentified child. The quietude of the scene, and the intense skill of the composition, made me want to sink in to one of the chairs and wait for winter.

The low and uneven light even brought out the humanity in Jaray, whose work has always seemed a bit academic to me. (No wonder this deeply thoughtful artist is a devotee of Piero della Francesca, that great mathematical experimenter.)

for your eyes only For Your Eyes Only, Pink & Turquoise (2020)

The light from the window revealed the scratchy, very slightly uneven paint strokes that made up the roundels’ colour blocks.

And one of them had a little pencilled x on the wall, just to the right of the canvas. It hadn’t quite been hung correctly. This detail, on the damp wall adjoining the uneven floor, seemed just perfect.

Paul Cézanne: Drawings - Tess Jaray: Roundels is at Karsten Schubert (London). 10 - 30 September 2020