Tess Jaray RA is a British painter and printmaker. Born in Vienna in 1937, Jaray grew up in rural Worcestershire, England, where her parents emigrated in 1938 after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany made it unsafe for people of Jewish descent to live there. She taught at The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL from 1968 until 1999. Over the last twenty years Jaray has completed a succession of major public art projects. She was made an Honorary Fellow of RIBA (Royal Institute for British Architects) in 1995 and a Royal Academician in 2010.
The impact of Renaissance architectural spaces Jaray encountered on her travels in Italy were formative for the development of her distinctive technique. In these ceilings she saw how simple lines interacted to transform space, powerfully inducing emotional responses. Writing on Jaray's paintings of the 60s Jasia Reichardt said they could be called '"ceiling geography" because they suggest views of an interior seen from below... Her paintings suggest some underlying mystery through the suggestion of architectural perspective.' Much of her career as a painter has been spent investigating the quality of effects geometry, pattern, repetition and colour have on space.
The patterns she creates evoke spatial ambiguities and shifting structures which work on the viewer's perceptions in subtle ways. According to the critic Terry Pitts, her work 'sense(s) the way in which history of decoration and patterning is embedded with elemental human experiences and impulses'. At this time of significant development, in 1964 Jaray began teaching. For four years she taught at Hornsey College of Art, before becoming the first female teacher at the Slade in 1968. In 1999 Jaray became Reader Emeritus in Fine Art at the Slade.