Celia Paul, Gwen John and Curtis Holder


I just lately wrote a submit a couple of small Celia Paul etching I got here throughout in the Marlborough Gallery. I’ve since been her drawings and amongst a number of very totally different photos discovered the self portrait drawing above. I actually discover it fascinating, because it has echoes of among the issues I’ve been attempting to do myself. The pinnacle feels as if it might be made out of blending and flowing gases, totally different textural energies merge into one another, in order that the top seems to float into visibility. On the similar time it’s nonetheless a head, the eyes appear shut and a second of stability happens across the ear. As the top twists away from me, I determine one thing in my very own thoughts concerning the inner gaze of this shut eyed determine; pondering that what it’s doing is not directly asserting its personal inner gaze over my very own. It’s highly effective with out having to be constructed with all the standard indicators of energy. As a substitute of creating a drawing of a head as strong as a rock, by drawing it from a low viewpoint, carving it out with tonal plenty or through the use of cross contour strains, this portrait arrives through the use of fumage like strategies. I’ve been asking myself, how do you draw vitality? How do you draw a physique and on the similar time mirror on it as a specific set of occasions that emerge out of and again into the vitality stream? This drawing appears to pulse with psychic vitality and has a presence, so turns into for myself, a pointer, a sign of a doable path to take.

The difficulty of ‘presence’ and what that truly is, is one other of these conundrums that has been on my thoughts just lately. What kind of presence are you able to give to somebody or one thing that’s depicted inside a picture? How does it relate to the precise presence of the particular person or factor portrayed? Celia Paul is sadly typically recognized extra for her relationship with Lucien Freud than for her personal work, Gwen John was initially recognized extra as a mannequin or ‘muse’ in relation to the rather more well-known Rodin. Step by step over time Gwen John has been seen much less and fewer as a lover of Rodin and an increasing number of as an vital artist in her personal proper. This displays a shift in society and what was at one level seen as a collection of attributes of the ‘female’ and subsequently not vital, is now learn in a really totally different means. The ‘quiet’ portraits of Gwen John, categorical dignity, the significance of an inside voice and calm management. The curve that the composition beneath is predicated on, is relatively like a strung bow, it’s taut and stuffed with managed vitality. The ‘presence’ of the sitter is undoubted, however it isn’t the kind of presence you affiliate with the grand portrait custom of vital folks. This portray acknowledges and presents the presence of a mortal soul, one that also manages to undertaking a definite aura, regardless of an absence of bravura paint vitality. In reality the vitality pulse comes from the restricted palette, the greys that encompass the face and fingers, permitting the delicate warms of perceived pores and skin tones, to glow with life.  

Gwen John: Chloë Boughton-Leigh: Leeds Metropolis Artwork Gallery

While you take a look at Gwen John’s drawings you additionally see this commentary of quietness. The fragility of life is glimpsed in her portraits of different ladies and women, however it isn’t a weak fragility, it’s one maintained through a steely resolve that sits beneath a quiet exterior. 

Gwen John: Research of a woman

Gwen John: Research of a kid

Celia Paul has the same robust fragility. I like the best way that she stares again at you from these drawings. She is aware of the worth of her personal presence, she would not must glorify her existence, it merely is. 

Celia Paul: Self portrait: 2007

Celia Paul: Self portrait: Watercolour and colored pencils

Celia Paul’s self portrait, made with watercolour and colored pencils above, not solely ‘simply exists’ or floats into being, it appears to balefully stare out as if acknowledging her personal uneasiness about being an artist. This gentle nearly not there presence, after some time turns into relatively uncomfortable to take a look at; she appears to ask, “What are you ?” Her presence defiantly current in what’s such an initially insubstantial seeming picture. 

Curtis Holder was the 2020 winner of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Yr competitors. A televised competitors that I’ve beforehand criticised for being about tv and never portray or drawing. Even so I feel it’s price a few of Holder’s drawings, as I imagine he’s an artist that has managed to come back by way of due to actual benefit, his work holding up on the TV display screen in addition to within the flesh. Within the context I am writing about as we speak, it’s in the best way he attracts what I’m starting to think about as vitality fields, or how to attract mild as each particle and wave, that pursuits me. He’s additionally drawn to Gwen John as an artist and has made a portrait of her.

Curtis Holder: Gwen John: 2021

Holder’s portrait of Gwen John is a kind of photos that emerges from a flickering ‘rain’ of strains. He should have labored from a flat picture, as Gwen John is lengthy useless, however he raises her again into being by discovering her picture in these strains as they minimize by way of the floor of his paper. I’m barely apprehensive concerning the darkish line that curves round an fringe of hair, it feels as if it’s a leftover from an earlier method, (one you too can see outlining the shoulders) however in addition to that I feel the drawing is a superb method to creating a homage of an artist that has clearly had an affect on him. 

The perfect of Holder’s drawings have a high quality that permits you to maintain mass and vitality as two issues in your thoughts directly, specifically I believed the best way that the orange of the what I feel is a self-portrait beneath, drifted out into the area across the determine, was an fascinating machine, because it added another means of coping with time. The pale residue of orange powder, (I presume it’s from faint dustings of pastel, however as I have never seen the precise drawing it might be traces of a watercolour wash) sits subsequent to the heightened depth of his orange pullover, in the same method to an afterimage. Not as an optical reverse, however as a suggestion of an orange transferring by way of area, of a former existence. 

Curtis Holder

The gentle orange within the picture above I additionally started to learn as a type of ghost, and it jogged my memory of one other small drawing of Celia Paul’s, ‘Mandy with wings’. 

Celia Paul: Mandy with wings 2007

Her drawing ‘Mandy with Wings’ is an attractive small reminder of find out how to discover magic within the on a regular basis. I think the wings that Mandy now has on this picture have been initially Mandy’s shadow solid onto a wall behind her, however Paul has seen one other risk and within the tilt of the top and suggestion of a monk’s behavior made by a few strains traced over Mandy’s shoulder, a fragile non secular thought has floated into being.  

Celia Paul: Mom with clasped fingers 2007

In Paul’s drawing of her mom with clasped fingers above, the ‘punctum’ for myself is the darkish line that stretches from her mom’s neck right down to her fingers. It is like a scar that cuts the determine in two. The vertical strains of the laid paper reinforce the thinness of the picture and the hand clenching the opposite hand’s fingers, suggests a nervous consciousness of a state of affairs that the eyes can barely take a look at. I discovered one other drawing of Paul’s mom on a scrap of torn paper, its informality suggesting that she did not wish to make an excessive amount of of the state of affairs, a notice made in a second, maybe in such a means that she did not disturb her mom. Maybe I am studying my very own narrative into the drawing, as I nicely keep in mind how different folks used to react if I made a decision to attract them, it all the time appeared such an intrusion, so I tended to make drawings of individuals surreptitiously. 

Celia Paul: Mom

Celia Paul additionally attracts utilizing watercolour and etching. Once more I discovered her method fascinating. Whoever Mandy is, Celia Paul appears to have the ability to discover the non secular in her. On this occasion, ‘Mandy in Daylight’ she provides her good friend a yellow halo, and the ‘sunlit head’ beneath, which I presume can be a picture of Mandy, suggests even deeper non secular consciousness, closed eyes in each instances intimating the presence of somebody who’s deeply involved together with her inside world. 

Celia Paul: Mandy in daylight

Celia Paul: Solar lit head

Within the small etching beneath it’s Paul that stares out at us once more, her face off centre, unable to ‘face’ filling the body, by some means avoiding direct head to head contact, but on the similar time capable of stare you out. One eye barely decrease than the opposite, the picture rising like others out of a haze of marks, this time those that an etching plate permits you to make, particularly when it’s wiped by hand. 

Celia Paul: Self-portrait Etching

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