No two works of hers are physically alike; each represents a fresh challenge… – Guy Brett*
Modern Art Oxford presents Life, Belief and Beyond, the first posthumous exhibition of works by the highly acclaimed and influential artist Rose Finn-Kelcey (1945–2014). Life, Belief and Beyond focuses on Finn-Kelcey’s explorations of power, performance, political commentary, and perceptions of the self, belief and spirituality.
The exhibition presents works from the early 1970s to 2014, including Divided Self (Speaker’s Corner), 1974; The Restless Image: a discrepancy between the seen position and the felt position, 1975; Glory, 1983; Bureau de Change, 1987; and It Pays to Pray, 1999. These examples of Finn-Kelcey’s diverse and exacting practice are presented alongside photographs, collage, performance documentation, sketches in progress and preparatory material – never before exhibited.
Finn-Kelcey’s work is conceptually powerful, profound and is characterised by a dry wit that belies the formidable intelligence and deep humanity that drove her practice. A central figure in the performance and feminist art scene in Britain for over four decades, her work is intimately concerned with social dialogue, populism, activism, and how these tools of communication intersect with complex systems of power.
Finn-Kelcey’s far-reaching influence on conceptual art in the 1970s and ‘80s extended locally, to the generation of YBAs (Young British Artists) in the ’90s as she began to realise large-scale and technically complex installations.
Avant-garde in her ideas both in art and politics, Finn-Kelcey’s endlessly inventive practice demonstrates the artist’s interest in creating socio-political statements with a visually arresting quality, often object-based, frequently combining her creative investigations with contemporary technologies.
Life, Belief and Beyond is a celebration of Finn-Kelcey’s work and pays tribute to her extraordinary practice and influence.
*Rose Finn-Kelcey Obituary, Guardian newspaper, 24 February 2014.
Born in Northampton, 1945, Rose Finn-Kelcey studied at Ravensbourne College and then at Chelsea College of Art, later becoming a major figure in the contemporary British art scene for over four decades. She continued to live and work in London from 1968 until her death in 2014.
Finn-Kelcey’s engagement with questions of power and agency was a driving force behind her decision to stage works within the public institutions that shape our civic realm. Such interventions included her striking flag works, such as Fog, flown from Alexandra Palace in 1971, and Power for the People, hoisted briefly at Battersea Power Station in 1972. Since her death, Finn-Kelcey’s work has been the subject of increasing attention, as the themes she was concerned with have re-entered the public consciousness: feminism, spirituality, commodity culture and individual empowerment, to name a few.
Over the course of her career Finn-Kelcey exhibited at numerous galleries in the UK including The Royal Academy of Art, Whitechapel Gallery, the Hayward Gallery, the Saatchi Gallery and Tate Britain. Her work can be found in national and international collections, most notably within the Tate collection, Arts Council Collection, British Council Collection and the Victoria & Albert Collection.
'Funny, beautiful, clever and poetic'— Sarah Kent, The Arts Desk
'Complete uplift'— Laura Cumming, The Guardian
'Highly recommended'— Claire Meadows, After Nyne magazine