Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Thurs 9th June: Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton


Here is a photo of  the beautiful ADi by Elizabeth Peyton and she is the reason I have come into contact with the artist as they are not only friends but ADi has also been a subject for her work.  Infact, last time I was in NYC and staying with ADi this show was on at The New Museum which is only round the corner from her flat but I ran out of time and missed it!  And here I am missing it again.  I was unable to make it down to the press preview at Whitechapel so writer/stylist Naomi Attwood went along to cover the show for me...............thankyou Naomi..............

Naomi for Fred Butler Style . . . . . . 
 The Whitechapel Gallery is a lovely wide, white space. It feels very calm and hushed and although you’re quiet and on your best behaviour, you can relax and enjoy great long private streams of consciousness while you stare at the art.  Like all successful galleries, it’s a breathing space for your mind. 
 
The exhibition in question, a few floors up consists of one room of drawings (not sketches but detailed pencil or pastel versions of Elizabeth Peyton’s famous paintings) and a large collection of her works in oils. 
 
Peyton is described in the Gallery’s literature as ‘a painter of modern life’ but it’s fair to describe her as a figurative painter, all the work depicts people she admires; whether or not she knows them, and the artist is often quoted as saying that she can only get inspired about painting someone she feels a connection to.
 
It might be one of her friends, like Ben, or Tony Luing, one of her heroes from the art world like David Hockney or Andy Warhol or other inspirational figures, like academic Susan Sontag.  
 


She has also reproduced a number of pop stars in loving brushstrokes. According to Iwona Blazwick, Director of the Gallery, Elizabeth revealed that she often paints from photos as small as the palm of her hand, torn from magazines or cut and pasted from the internet. I absolutely love this black and white one of Sid Vicious, which gives a fresh view on the iconic photograph.  

 
In some of the other jewel-bright painting we see Brit heroes such as Keith Richards or Jarvis Cocker and Liam Gallagher sharing a cig. Although all the subjects are instantly recognisable in their portraits, you view them very much through Peyton’s particular lens. Girly, lipsticky boys and tough looking girls; - including this self portrait, and the fact that none of the sittees look straight at her, their eyes unfailingly cast down or to the side, as if Peyton had managed to capture them in a natural, unposed state, caught unawares in a world of their own thoughts. 
 

Iwona Blaswick compares Peyton’s work to Rembrant and its true that her composition and perfect colour schemes betray a very accomplished painter indeed despite her fan-based subject matter. However, I think the comparisons to Nan Goldin, Corrine Day and Wolfgang Tilmans (all of whom she either knows or admires) are more apt.

 
The paintings are all so personal and each contain a mini story within their four luminous edges, that by displaying a collection of her favourite things, Peyton lays herself bare, just like the photographers who document their own worlds. 
 
One difference between Peyton, and say Corinne Day is the fact that the images are sweet, rather than seedy. After looking at a really good photo by Day you should feel slightly dirty, as if you’d been spying through someone’s bathroom keyhole or flicking through their private diary. With this artist, the overall sense is far more one of childlike innocence, and heartfelt tribute. After all, what bigger compliment can you pay someone you love other than immortalising them in oils? 
 
Live Forever is on till 20th September. 
 
Naomi Attwood

1 comment:

wecouldgrowup2gether said...

i remember seeing one of her works for the very first time in a gallery and it brought me tears and chills