National Portrait Gallery acquires self-portraits by female artists –

The National Portrait Gallery in London, which is currently closed for a major redevelopment, has acquired five self-portraits by women-identifying artists as part of a three-year project to strengthen female representation in its collection.

The acquisition includes the first self-portrait by a black woman to enter the gallery’s collections, Everlyn Nicodemus’s Självporträtt, Åkersbergafrom 1982.

In the painting, Nicodemus’ identities as artist, woman, mother and wife converge. Talking about work Guardianthe Tanzanian-born, UK-based artist called the work a “form of psychological survival”.

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Nicodemus is the subject of an upcoming personal exhibition at The Richard Saltoun Gallery, which has spaces in London and Rome, is set to open on April 5.

The National Portrait Gallery‘s latest acquisitions also include a painting by Rose Finn-Kelcey, a major figure in British contemporary art who had a playful and feminist practice spanning performance, installation, photography and sculpture. his self-portrait, Preparatory study for “Divided Self”depicts mirror images of herself deep in conversation as she sits on a bench in London’s Hyde Park.

In Chila Kumari Burman’s 1988 self-portrait Aphrodisiacs being socially constructed, the artist is also interpreted simultaneously in two different roles, as a young woman and a warrior. A work by conceptual artist Susan Hiller, As (recovered), belongs to a series of self-portraits inspired by photo booth imagery, with the artist’s face reproduced multiple times with slight pose variations in each image.

In contrast, Celia Paul’s painting Portrait, Downcast Eyes presents a single melancholic image of itself. Her face is shown yellowed and gaunt, and her eyes seem to drift in contemplation. The work was created as part of a series of self-portraits launched alongside her 2019 memoir, in which the artist opened up about her life and her partnership with Lucian Freud. In the memoirs, Paul, a frequent muse of the notorious authoritarian Freud, reflected on the act of reclaiming his power through portraiture. “The act of sitting is not passive,” she wrote, adding that now “I am my own subject.”

Julia P. Cluff