Artist Jessica Warboys takes viewers on a mysterious trip at l’École des Beaux-Arts

Skye Sherwin

At the crossroads of myth and mark-making, her exhibition for Paris+ par Art Basel’s Public Program stages a candle journeying towards the unknown.

Read about Jessica Warboys’ project at the Chapelle des Petits-Augustins des Beaux-Arts de Paris on Art Basel Stories.

The 17th-century chapel of Paris’ Fine Arts academy hosted an exhibition by British artist Jessica Warboys, exploring the overlap between man-made culture and nature.

THIS TAIL GROWS AMONG RUINS (2023) presents a multi-channel video and sound installation, alongside SEA RIVER O (2023) a collage of large-scale unstretched paintings. The installation SEA RIVER O collages Sea Painting (2009-ongoing) and River Painting (2019-ongoing). Both Sea Painting and River Painting are made below the high-water line, at the sea or the river’s edge. After immersion, the sodden canvases are pulled from the sea or river and stretched out onto the beach or riverbank, accordingly. The artist scatters mineral pigments – these colors are in part directed by hand, wind, sand, folds, and painted gestures in beeswax. The soundtrack for the installation incorporates ultrasound recordings of bats and original compositions by Morten Norbye Halvorsen. As bat calls resonate, the video follows the metamorphic journey of a candle through shifting contexts: an ancient forest, a 17th-century convent, a gilded library, rivers, and seas. Together, the paintings, video, and sound crystallize thoughts circling bodies – whether they be bodies of water, humans, or animals – and their potential for transformation.

Jessica Warboys, SEA RIVER O (detail), 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Gaudel de Stampa.

Jessica Warboys

About the artist

Born in the UK in 1977, lives and works in Bergen, Norway and Berlin, Germany.

Jessica Warboys works in a variety of media: film, painting, sculpture, performance, glasswork, and printmaking. Her works, although produced in different media, often refer to each other. Nature features prominently in her art, as she sees it as both coworker and inspiration.

Educated at Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall and then the Slade School of Fine Art in London, Warboys’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Gaudel de Stampa, Paris (2020) and she participated in the Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art, Portugal (2022), the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden (2021), and Documenta 13, Germany (2012). Her works can be found in public collections including the Towner Collection, UK; Arts Council Collection, UK; Kadist Foundation, Paris, France; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; and Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux, France, among others.

© Jessica Warboys