Elizabeth Peyton transformer
For me a portrait is a vehicle to see the whole universe. Through a face I can see everything that exists. — Elizabeth Peyton, 2021
For the first time in France in over a decade, Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Marais presents a solo exhibition of New York-based artist Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965), featuring new oil paintings on linen and board, as well as a selection of monotypes.
Colours coalesce on Peyton’s canvases from distinct, impressionistic brushstrokes, like an aggregate of time and emotion which morphs into the faces of people and characters from a wide range of sources. One of the most influential painters of her generation, her small, intimate portraits capture a depth of feeling that makes palpable the vulnerability of her subjects, be they actors, politicians, artists or close friends. ‘I’m fascinated with what people do with themselves and how that might show up on their face,’ stated Peyton in a recent interview, explaining that the face is, for her, a ‘vessel’, capable of taking us from individual feelings to universal human experiences.
Peyton works both from life and from photographs, returning to her portraits over time and allowing her own memories of the sitter to colour the final rendition. ‘I’ll work from life and then work from photos, and then maybe from memory or even other photos,’ Peyton told The White Review in 2019. ‘Life tends to get a little literal. I like the magical things that come from my own bad photography, or from photos found on the internet. They might contain something that you would never see in real life.’
The exhibition follows Peyton’s unprecedented retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2019, in which her portraits were interspersed with the museum’s collection, and which then travelled to the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2020.
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