Letters to Gwen John


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About the Author

Celia Paul is recognised as one of the most important painters working in Britain today. She was born in India in 1959, before moving to England as a young child. Her major solo exhibitions include Celia Paul, curated by Hilton Als, at Yale Center for British Art (2018) and The Huntington (2019); Desdemona for Celia by Hilton, Gallery Met, New York (2015-16); and Gwen John and Celia Paul, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2012-13). Her work was included in the group exhibition All Too Human at Tate Britain (2018), and is in many collections, including the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Saatchi Collection and Metropolitan Museum, New York.


Beautiful, tender, and riveting. I have taken this book into my heart. -- Claire-Louise Bennett, author of CHECKOUT 19
A miraculous, door-opening book -- Julia Blackburn, author of TIME SONG
Since the publication of her memoir, Self-Portrait, Celia Paul has become almost as famous for her writing as her art... [In Letters to Gwen John] the analogies between the two painters - solitary, spiritual, quietly magnificent - become even clearer. -- Laura Cumming * Observer *
Devastatingly honest... At once diary and confessional, biography and autobiography and something between the two... This book lets the reader into a world of sadness, loneliness and isolation. At its heart, however, is that unexpected kernel of confidence and self-belief that the author shared with Gwen John. -- Honor Clerk * Spectator *
[An] intimate, immediate form of memoir [combined] with elements of biography and art criticism. The end result is a beguiling, singular work of art - a portrait of two lives, entwined through time and space... Paul's prose...glints and gleams on the page. -- Lucy Scholes * Daily Telegraph *
It is really Paul who's centre stage, and she is fascinating; I do not feel, at this point, that I could ever tire of her mind, and the unlikely, singular way it turns. -- Rachel Cooke * Observer *
It's a work of biography, analysis, reverence, and supplication, and it's filled with buoyant representations of both Paul's and John's work. A charge runs through it, the crackly static electricity of two connected souls touching hands across a century. -- Hillary Kelly * Vulture *
Paul's prose is spare and luminous, revealing her painter's eye in attention to colour, texture, and depth... The included paintings, both John's and Paul's, are breathtaking. Fellow artists will relish this lucid look at what is required to "live and paint truthfully." * Publishers Weekly *

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