Tania Kovats, course leader for the MA Drawing course at UAL Wimbledon, took us on a trip through her varied career and practice. I describe only a few of the many works she talked about but they show how her interests drive her work in many directions. Her desire to communicate through art, rather than follow the market, has led her to a ‘portfolio career’, using her teaching and corporate commissions to generate enough income and independence to be able to make what interests her as well.
She started with this piece she did for her MA graduation show at the RCA. She took the wall off her studio space; cut a thin slice from the perimeter and re-installed it with fluorescent tubes behind it. She saw it as being about material (and light as non-material) and mass, suggesting something in the space beyond.
It also marks her rejection at that time of a more traditional idea of what sculpture should be. Some work she made around that time, appropriating Catholic iconography, even led to protests outside exhibition venues.
She made more light pieces but although this repetition created more demand from galleries, she didn’t want to continue to make the same work. Nor did she want to become or be seen as part of the ‘bad boy’ generation of YBAs. So her practice took a new turn, towards landscape.
This ‘landscape within a plinth’ questions ‘what is art? what is sculpture?’ – not just something on a plinth, but on this case created from it. Kovats sees water as a continuing theme throughout her practice; even these landscape pieces reflect actual landscapes formed by water erosion. While her public work is large, uses methods and materials that she could not produce on her own and reaches a new, wider audience, her drawing practice is private and studio-based. Drawings like this explore the structure of rock formations.
Water is more obviously the theme of recent works like 100 Rivers, installed in a boathouse at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh or Evaporation at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester.
The latter show illustrates the range of her work: large bronze bowls, drawing on tiles, an installation of bottles of sea water and drawings on sea-charts. She provides audiences with many different door-ways into her work and her themes.