Cardiff artist Cecile Johnson Soliz, winner of last year’s Oriel Davies Open competition, is to launch a solo exhibition at the Newtown contemporary art gallery on June 29 as part of her prize.
Drawing is at the heart of her work. “My drawing has always been very physical,” she said. “Sometimes I draw on paper and it remains flat and is hung on a wall to look at. Other times I use the drawing and paper in a more sculptural way and consider space, light and gravity as part of the work. This makes them become a part of the physical world and something that can be looked at and walked around, stood under or peaked at from the sides….”
Johnson Soliz has taken photographs for many years of how people use material and space to give and take away order in public, urban and rural places. “I’m fascinated by simple, common gestures and actions like stuffing, wrapping, gathering, stacking, pulling, folding…,” she added. “Seeing a stack of carefully folded cardboard boxes outside a fruit and veg shop or garden tools neatly hung outside a DIY shop are inspirational to me and creep into the making of sculpture and drawings in my studio.”
She is enamoured with sculpture and drawing and fascinated with the creative process. “When does a work of art begin? When does it end? Where does it come from and what happens when we embark on the process of making in the studio? What role does the ‘making’ process take in creating the work of art and how much are we willing to let ourselves be surprised and guided by this? Can a drawing be a sculpture? Can a sculpture be a drawing? How does this dialogue open the discipline of each?”
It is these and other questions that Johnson Soliz has been asking in her studio in Cardiff while preparing for the exhibition, themed Twist. She will be discussing her work in conversation with Phyllida Barlow, OBE, at the exhibition opening on June 29 at 3pm.
The exhibition, which runs until September 11, is supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
In addition to the Oriel Davies Open, Johnson Soliz won the gold medal in fine art at the National Eisteddfod in 2017 and has recently shown work at Galerie Simpson, Swansea (2017) and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2017, 2018).
Born in Germany, she grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, California and lived in Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Italy and Ghana before moving to Wales in 1975 to study on the foundation course at Cardiff College of Art.
She later completed a B.A. and M.A. in Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, London, where she lived for 20 years. She returned to Wales as the Henry Moore Fellow in Sculpture at Cardiff School of Art and Design (1995-1997) and became senior lecturer and then head of fine art and programme leader in sculpture until July, 2011.