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Kevin Cryan
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Claerwen James @ FLowers Central.
« : 19.05.08 at 09:21 »
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The full text of The Independent review of Claerwen James's current exhibition of paintings at Flowers Central is to be found here.
 
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Claerwen James, Flowers Central, London
(Rated 4/ 5 )
Portraits of an interior sadness
By Sue Hubbard
Monday, 19 May 2008  
 
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To be a portrait painter, whose work looks to the Dutch masters in its quiet interiority and muted palette, as well as to Corot and Ingres, is a difficult position to adopt in this current artistic climate, where figurative painters tend to have to play out intense psychodramas, often of an implicitly sexual nature, as in the paintings of Chantal Joffe, or to display an ironic knowingness, as in the highly stylised portraits of John Currin.  
James is, perhaps, closer in spirit, if not in style, to the American artist Alice Neel, who was praised for her courage in painting, as the critic Hubert Crehan wrote, "portraits as works of art during a time when this genre is widely suspected of not being art at all."
James's work is not fashionable but it does have a quiet integrity and displays a subtle mastery of her medium. She does not paint from the model but from the photograph. Her subject is not the person but the photograph itself with its inbuilt sense of loss and nostalgia. For the photograph is a moment already past. There is nothing more evocative; and it is this Proustian sense of the remembrance of things past that James evokes with understated insight.

 
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The exhibition runs to the 24th of May.
 
Kevin Cryan
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