Celia Paul

British , 1959 -

Paul was born in 1959 in Trivandrum, South India, educated in England and studied at the Slade School of Art (1976-81), where she was taught, among others, by Lucian Freud, with whom she would have a ten-year relationship, and a son, born in 1984.She herself has been painted by Freud , before gradually emerging as a painter and printmaker in her own right in the mid-80s.

Her subjects have centred on her family, most of all on her mother, with whom she felt the need to rebuild a relationship after a degree of neglect experienced as the fourth of five sisters. Although her mother has sat most frequently to her as a model, her sisters have also featured in her paintings and in her graphic oeuvre.

The setting of her paintings reflects the character of her studio in her flat opposite the British Museum.

A solitary figure sits or stands in undecorated surroundings, sometimes in close up, sometimes dwarfed by the emptiness, with quiet demeanour, melancholy, possibly lost in contemplation – the expression on Paul’s uplifted faces echoes the intense but silent emotion seen in the work of artists like Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach. Paul has preferred the medium of softground, monochrome etching or, less frequently, lithography for her graphic work; media which mirror the intimacy and the soft outlines of her painting subjects. These have been shown, with her paintings, in sensitively selected solo exhibitions at the Abbot Hall art Gallery, Kendal (2004), Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield (2005), and jointly with Gwen John at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2012-13).


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