The subtle nature of Celia Paul’s depictions of family and friends are often likened to a sense of the ineffable. Her highly personalised subject matter has the ability to cause an emotive reaction to nearly all those that view them. In Paul’s choice to represent relationships such as; mothers to daughters, siblings or friendships – the viewer is able to engage with these representations by drawing on their own personal experiences.

Paul’s preferred method for printmaking is soft-ground etching, a medium which allows her to capture the effect of light on her subjects and spaces, bringing a sense of inner mood to her prints. There is a timeless quality to these works, as her figures express intimacy and closeness in undecorated surroundings, dwarfed by silence and lost in contemplation.

The exhibition was held in 2018 and featured six paintings from the contemporary British artist Celia Paul (born 1959), this was the first in a series of three successive exhibitions authored and curated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hilton Als, staff writer and theater critic for the New Yorker and Associate Professor of Writing at Columbia University. The display was specially selected by Als in collaboration with the artist and a deeply personal testament to their transatlantic friendship, focused on Paul’s recent works, which explore intimacy and inwardness.
Paul, Self Portrait, 1999, soft ground etching, edition of 10, 15 3-4 x 13 in., 40 x 33 cm (email)

Though separated by over 80 years, the lives and work of Gwen John (1876 1939) and Celia Paul (b.1959) share many fascinating parallels. Both were students at the Slade School of Art and models and muses to internationally famous male artists, and each have expressed a strongly personal vision that reflects their identity as a woman artist. The exhibition included key examples of paintings and drawings by both artists, placed side-by-side for the first time, offering a unique insight into the common experiences and themes which bridge almost eight decades of history