[Celia Paul’s] story is striking. It is not, as has been assumed, the tale of a muse who later became a painter, but an account of a painter who, for ten years of her early life, found herself mistaken for a muse, by a man who did that a lot. [Self-Portrait] is about many things besides [Lucian] Freud: her mother, her childhood, her sisters, her paintings. But she neither rejects her past with Freud nor rewrites it, placing present ideas and feelings alongside diary entries and letters she wrote as a young woman, a generous, vulnerable strategy that avoids the usual triumphalism of memoir. For Paul, the self is continuous (“I have always been, and I remain at nearly sixty, the same person I was as a teenager…. This simple realisation seems to me to be complex and profoundly liberating”), and equal weight is given to “the vividness of the past and the measured detachment of the present.” — Zadie Smith, 2019
Landscapes and portraiture—self- and otherwise—are the focus of an exhibition of paintings by Celia Paul, who has just published an extensively illustrated memoir.
Through December 20.
Victoria Miro Gallery II
16 Wharf Road, London.
2019, Jonathan Cape.
Celia Paul, from top: Self-Portrait, Early Summer, 2018, oil on canvas; Self-Portrait, 1983, ink on paper; Kate in White, Spring, 2018 (detail), oil on canvas; Room and Tower, 2019, oil on canvas; 2016 photograph of Paul in her London studio by Gautier Deblonde; My Sisters in Mourning, 2015–16, oil on canvas; Last Light on the Sea, 2016; Celia Paul, Self-Portrait (2019), cover image courtesy and © Jonathan Cape; Lucian and Me, 2019, oil on canvas; Painter and Model, 2012, oil on canvas. Images courtesy and © the artist, the photographers, Jonathan Cape, and Victoria Miro.