Throughout the 90s, she carried on developing her unique figurative expression using a limited palette of oil paint on canvas. In 1995 she showed a new group of paintings at the legendary Anthony d'Offay Gallery in London. The paintings were made up of solid body forms, some in pairs and others solitary, but all appeared to be in motion on a flat monochromatic background. The Swimmer, 1995, now in the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery, is one such painting. It’s composed of few colors; blues, pinks and black. The figure is positioned vertically with a bulbous head and soft velvety winglike arms outstretched horizontally. From what appears to be an aerial perspective, it floats upside down on a pale blue background. It’s both seductive and unsettling, minimalist and arresting. The ‘stop-action’ state of the figure allows the viewer to consider the form that’s neither male nor female, alien or animal but simply an existential being, centered, although slightly adrift.
By the turn of the 21st century, the burgeoning technological revolution of the 90s had exploded. The internet became the mainstay of communication. Now, social media platforms proliferate and picture-sharing apps are ubiquitous.
Undeterred by all the ‘noise,’ Tyson continues to expand on the subject of the figure simply by using line and color. She switched from oil to acrylic paint “mainly because I became too sensitized to oil paint.” The odorless property of acrylic was curative and its fast-drying property fueled a new sense of urgency that she put into her image-making.
Keeping to a limited palette and using a dry-brush technique, she collages color, strategically revealing the underpainting in areas on the canvas. She builds up the surface this way while at the same time making marks, quick outlines of the figure in acrylic, that characteristically lend the subject a more agitated, more frenetic nature. The distortion of proportion and perspective further adds a psychological reading of the subject, what she once described as "psycho-figuration.”
Tyson currently lives on a farm in Upstate New York. She invited me to visit her studio, a nondescript space later added to the 19th century rustic farmhouse that she inhabits. It has low-ceilings and windows that open onto an expansive landscape. With natural light pouring in she works on different paintings simultaneously moving from self-portraits to figures in daily acts drawn from country life as much as from her routine visits to New York City. Her imaginative cast of characters are in various stages of development. They are made more primal by her uncalculating approach to image-making in relation to universal issues of identity, gender, sexuality and representation in 21st century art.