Cecile Johnson Soliz from Cardiff has won the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the 2017 National Eisteddfod.
Artist Carwyn Evans and curators Ceri Jones and Jessica Hemmings were invited to select the Open Exhibition and award the prizes. They were unanimous in their decision that the accolade should be bestowed on Cecile Soliz Johnson who also won the full monetary award of £5,000. The artist who grew up in California has long since settled in the Welsh capital. Whilst she once worked in clay, nowadays she uses. simple newsprint, charcoal and paint.
According to Carwyn Evans: “This artist’s work offers an immediate visual feast: dramatic and elegant, clean, pristine, new – the work is devoid of a sense of history and we’re unaware of what time-space we’re in. For me, the perceived privilege of being ‘first-witness’ is heightened. Prolonged viewing encourages its reveal/undress, making apparent its construction and reminds us that the art object exists as the result of actions performed on materials – a simple truth of any work of art.”
Ceri Jones adds: “The combination of scale, profile and materiality is coherent and beguiling. There is an aesthetic in this work that, for me, resonates with Cecile’s ceramic sculptures of a decade ago. It is that study of form and placement, its quiet poise in a space.
And Jessica Hemmings states: “The driving curiosity Cecile has brought to such basic materials – paper and black paint – is humbling. It makes so much of the visual chaos around us seem like diversion tactics. Just study something. Anything. Really knowing how something so mundane can be tested and questioned and tested again is such a beautiful reminder that nothing is boring. Ever.”
Cecile Johnson Soliz is fascinated by drawing. “I draw on paper with charcoal and draw with paper and other materials like cloth and wire in a more physical, sculptural way. I combine these and place them together, so that they relate to one another and to the space of the exhibition.
“I notice gestures and actions that are part of daily activities: winding, wrapping, squashing, rolling, pressing, folding, intertwining… these all call attention to common, simple, daily processes and are close to hand - to do with touching and ‘making things’. I am curious about both the physical and conceptual aspects of making art. These two strands can go together in fascinating and surprising ways. It is exciting to consider how paintings, drawings and sculpture are inter-related and how they can be placed, hung, propped or wedged in an exhibition, to make particular conversations within a shared space.”