Purple Diary

[June 14 2011]

First show of Elizabeth Peyton in Paris, at the Gagosian Gallery

For her first solo show in France, American artist Elizabeth Peyton has created a series of small-scale tightly framed works acting as visual biography. Staying faithful to the sensuality of her intimiste genre, Peyton chronicles moments of life through her friends, artistic entourage and inspirational figures such as Berliner Klara Liden, Nate Lowman, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Pencil and oil portraits of our culture’s Zeitgeist – Patti Smith, Kanye West and Justin Bieber are displayed alongside Isa Genzken with still lives based around the late French sculptor Camille Claudel. Alongside her own still life studies in Berlin and Paris, Peyton’s placement of her subject evolves into the fetishisation of objects and elements as emotional connection to the person such as Camille Claudel Still Life (2010/2011), with sculpture and roses. Often using photographs as source material, the repetitive anonymity of mass-media fall short from Peyton’s emotional world. Not one for the Warholian detachment, Peyton has described the act of painting a portrait as a meditative encounter. From her unique watercolour Klara (2010) to the pensive Nate (Nate Lowman 2011), an instinctual curation and insight casts her subjects into emotional pigments. Her portraits invite to the idolising contemplation of their physical aura – but beyond their distinct mystique, it’s that transitory moment we continue to feel in Peyton’s instinct, when the humane transcends the persona. Photo and text Sophie Pinchetti

New Works by Elizabeth Peyton, on view until July 28 at the Gagosian Gallery, 4 rue de Ponthieu, Paris. 

Subscribe to our newsletter