Striking new larger-than-life-sized portraits by the painter Catherine Goodman will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in June, it was announced today (Wednesday 23 April 2014).
Film director Stephen Frears, poet and broadcaster Daisy Goodwin, novelist Vikram Seth, Princes Drawing School student and ex-soldier Harry Parker and lawyer Diana Rawstron are among the subjects of Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life (17 June – 23 November 2014).
Goodman has been working on the paintings and drawings, which will be seen for the first time, over the past three years. All sittings took place at the artist’s London studio where all her subjects sat in a duck-egg blue chair which can be clearly seen as a unifying element in the portraits. Catherine inherited the chair from Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire, which was the home of her great-grandmother, the Bloomsbury group socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell.
Catherine Goodman says: ‘The process of making a portrait is fundamental for me. The long periods of time spent in the studio together mean that trust develops between us and relationships deepen. For me, good portraits have psychological depth but it’s not something that comes without mining’.
Goodman’s paintings are psychological as much as painterly, and it is her interest in the fragility of life that guides her choice of subjects for this exhibition. Instead of turning away from human vulnerability, Goodman compulsively examines it, a response that may stem from her relationship with a disabled sister whom she has drawn and painted regularly for over twenty-five years. In a fast world, she is an artist prepared to wait for the truth to surface: making slow portraits that, little by little, scratch beneath the surface to unveil what is ordinarily hidden behind a public face.
This is the first display of Catherine Goodman’s work at the National Portrait Gallery, whose relationship with the artist dates back to 2002 when she was awarded first prize in the BP Portrait Award for her painting of Dom Antony Sutch, master of Downside College.
To mark this year’s 25th Anniversary of the BP Portrait Award the Gallery will display a new portrait of Sutch together with Goodman’s BP Portrait Award winner’s commission for the Gallery’s permanent collection, her 2005 painting of the founder of the modern hospice movement Dame Cicely Saunders, which was later the subject of a Royal Mail stamp.
‘She believes in direct drawing and painting, piercing observation and constantly re-visiting the subject. I have been watching these portraits evolve,’ says Sarah Howgate, National Portrait Gallery Contemporary Curator, ‘and I have been struck by the obvious intensity of Catherine’s relationship with her sitters and how they all appear to be looking inwards.’
Catherine Goodman was born in 1961 and studied at Camberwell School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, where she won the RA Gold Medal. She is represented by Marlborough Fine Art. Goodman is exhibiting Drawings from Veronese at Colnaghi this May, as part of her ongoing investigation of the artist’s work through drawing. She is Artistic Director of The Prince’s Drawing School, which she co-founded with HRH The Prince of Wales. Goodman currently lives and paints in London and India. Passionate about painting, Catherine counts among her mentors Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and the late Lucian Freud.
Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life, is curated by the Gallery’s Contemporary Curator, Sarah Howgate, whose exhibitions include the highly successfulLucian Freud Portraits (2012) and David Hockney Portraits (2006).
Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life (17 June -23 November 2014) is in the Contemporary Collection displays on the Ground Floor Lerner Galleries, National Portrait Gallery, London, Admission free. http://www.npg.org.uk/
A catalogue with essays by William Feaver and Sarah Howgate, is published by Marlborough in June 2014. The book will contain reflections by sitters’ friends, including quotes and texts by Sebastian Faulks, A.N. Wilson, Emma Freud, Alice Oswald, Judith Thurman, Sir Michael Moritz, Rosa Monckton and Hannah Rothschild. http://www.marlboroughfineart.com