Celia Paul

Self-Portrait
  • Self-Portrait

  • I’m not a portrait painter. If I’m anything, I have always been an autobiographer.

    Self-Portrait reveals a life truly lived through art. In this short, intimate memoir, Celia Paul moves effortlessly through time in words and images, folding in her past and present selves. From her move to the Slade School of Fine Art at sixteen, through a profound and intense affair with the older and better-known artist Lucian Freud, to the practices of her present-day studio, she meticulously assembles the surprising, beautiful, haunting scenes of a life. Paul brings to her prose the same qualities that she brings to her art: a brutal honesty, a delicate but powerful intensity, and an acute eye for visual detail.

    At its heart, this is a book about a young woman becoming an artist, with all the sacrifices and complications that entails. As she moves out of Freud’s shadow, and navigates a path to artistic freedom, Paul’s power and identity as an artist emerge from the page.

    Self-Portrait is a uniquely arresting, poignant book, and a work of art and literature by a singular talent.

    'Fascinating… Painfully honest on what it means to be a woman who puts art first, no matter what.’ Olivia Laing, New Statesman

    **Shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2019**

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.


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