Celia Paul

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Celia Paul (born 1959) is an Indian-born British artist.


Celia Paul was born on 11 November 1959 in Thiruvananthapuram (formerly called Trivandrum), South India. She is the daughter of Geoffrey Paul, 8th Bishop of Hull, and the sister of the theologian Jane Paul who is the wife of former Archbishop Rowan Williams. Her niece Mary is a poet and environmental campaigner instrumental in getting the University of Oxford to stop investment in fossil fuels. Paul is a British citizen.

From 1976 to 1981 she studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where she met Lucian Freud who was a visiting tutor. She had a relationship with Freud between 1978 and 1988 and has a son by him, Frank Paul (born 10 December 1984), who is also an artist.[1] Celia Paul appears in several paintings by Freud, including Girl in a Striped Nightshirt (1983–85; Tate, London).[2] Spouse, Steven Kupfer (married 2011).

Paul was represented by Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London from 1984 to 1986 and then by Marlborough Fine Art, London from 1989 to 2014. She has been represented by Victoria Miro, London since May 2014.[3]

Paul wrote her autobiography Self-Portrait which was released in 2019 and well-received by national newspapers including The Guardian.[4] She was shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland Prize in 2020 for Self-Portrait.[5]

Style and influences[edit]

Celia Paul's paintings are intimate depictions of people and places that she knows well. She does no portrait commissions. Her paintings have a haunting otherworldly feeling. "Throughout all her work the sense of sight is associated with a world of potential, within. This is how a sense of the ineffable is able to be communicated".[6] Paul worked on a series of paintings of her mother from 1977 to 2007 and since then she has concentrated on her four sisters, especially her sister Kate. "…[T]he real strength of Paul's project becomes apparent with time: the concentrated emotional energy of chronicling a family and its subtle shifts over many years".[7] Recently her work has taken a new direction and she has been focussing on landscape and the sea. "[S]he …is a creator of subterranean images. Her canvases are Impressionism in conversation with modernism- objective but felt".[8]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Yale Center for British Art, 3rd April-12th August 2018; travelling to Huntington Library, 9th February- 8th July 2019
  • "The Sea and The Mirror", Victoria Miro Venice, 23 September – 21 December 2017
  • "desdemona for hilton by celia", Victoria Miro, London, 16 September – 29 October 2016
  • "desdemona for celia by hilton", Gallery Met, New York, 2015
  • "Celia Paul", Victoria Miro, 2014
  • "Gwen John and Celia Paul: Painters in Parallel", Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 2012–2013
  • "Celia Paul", Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 2005
  • "Celia Paul: Stillness", Abbot Hall, Kendal, 2004
  • Regular solo exhibitions at Marlborough Fine Art, 1991–2013
  • "Celia Paul", Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 1986

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • Contemporary Tintoretto, Palazzo Ducale and Galeria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro, Venice: October 20th 2018 – February 24th, 2019
  • "All Too Human", Tate Britain, 28 February – 26 August 2018; travelling to Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 9 October 2018 – 13 January 2019
  • "House Work", Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, 1 February – 18 March 2017
  • "NO MAN'S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection", Rubell Family Collection, Miami, 2015 – 2016
  • "Forces in Nature", curated by Hilton Als; Victoria Miro, London, 2015
  • Work presented at Frieze Art Fair, London, 2014 by Victoria Miro
  • "Cinematic Visions: Painting at the Edge of Reality", curated by James Franco, Isaac Julien and Glenn Scott Wright, Victoria Miro, London, 2013
  • "Self-Consciousness", curated by Peter Doig and Hilton Als, VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin, 2010
  • "Psycho", curated by Danny Moynihan, Anne Faggionato, London, 2000
  • "School of London", Odette Gilbert, London, 1989
  • "British Figurative Art: Sickert to Bacon", Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1989
  • "School of London: Bacon to Bevan", Musée Maillol, Paris, 1998
  • "September", curated by Peter Doig, The approach, London, 1997

Films and interviews[edit]

Public collections[edit]

British Museum, London; National Portrait Gallery, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Saatchi Collection, London; Abbot Hall, Kendal; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut; Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen; Frissiras Museum, Athens; Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick, Germany; Morgan Institute, New York; New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge

Further reading[edit]

  • Celia Paul, Self-Portrait. Jonathan Cape, November 2019 ISBN 9781787331846
  • Tim Adams, Celia Paul on life after Lucian Freud: ‘I had to make this story my own’, The Guardian, 27 October 2019
  • Financial Times Magazine: "Acclaimed artist Celia Paul on painting from life- and loss": 16 March 2018
  • Farah Nayeri, New York Times: Artist’s Muse Steps out of the Shadows: 5 March 2018 and front page of New York Times International 11 March 2018
  • Sophie Elmhirst, ‘Standing Tall: Celia Paul will always be her own woman’, Harper’s Bazaar Art, November 2016 [Cover artwork Anemone, Celia Paul, May 2016]
  • Laura Cumming, ‘It’s always the quiet ones...’, The New Review [The Observer], 11 September 2016
  • Jackie Wullschlager, ‘Artist Celia Paul explores the beauty of melancholy’, Financial Times, 2 September 2016
  • Hilton Als, "Celia at Home", in Celia Paul (London: Victoria Miro, 2014)
  • Rowan Williams, (introduction) Gwen John and Celia Paul: Painters in Parallel (Chichester: Pallant House Gallery, 2012)
  • Catherine Lampert, "Eighty Steps", in Celia Paul (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 2011)
  • Frank Paul, (introductions) Celia Paul (Sheffield: Graves Art Gallery, 2005) and Celia Paul (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 2013)
  • William Feaver, (introduction) Celia Paul: Stillness (Kendal: Abbot Hall Art Gallery, 2004)
  • Alistair Hicks, The School of London: Resurgence of Contemporary Painting (Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1989)
  • "Can a Woman Who Is an Artist Ever Just Be an Artist", New York Times Magazine, November 2019


  1. ^ Moorhead, Joanna (12 October 2012). "'Lucian wanted us to have a baby'".
  2. ^ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/freud-girl-in-a-striped-nightshirt-t13719 22 May 2005
  3. ^ "Victoria Miro – Artists".
  4. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/20/self-portrait-celia-paul-review=. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Comerford, Ruth (2 July 2020). "Michele Kirsch wins £10,000 RSL Christopher Bland Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  6. ^ Angus Cook, Introduction to Celia Paul: Recent Work at Marlborough Fine Art, October 1991
  7. ^ Jackie Wullschlager: Financial Times, 6 July 2014
  8. ^ "Letter from London: Celia Paul and Henri Matisse". 28 July 2014.

External links[edit]