Profile: Georgina Clapham >

About the featured work

‘Ideal Portrait of a Man’
Oil on linen,
105 x 80 cm

The portrait above readdresses the ideal beauty portraits of 15th century Florence, in which a constructed male view of female beauty was established. Stripping the original image of traditional motifs, here Georgina recasts this outmoded stereotype with a transgender woman.

In her portraits Georgina attempts to draw out the underlying psychology or sexuality of her subjects, engaging with storytelling and theatricality. Her paintings exist between portraits and tableau, aiming to capture a still frame of a narrative, shifting between naturalism and artifice. These take the form of her own contemporary mythologies, reworked from archetypal narratives in Greek mythology and folklore. She gives precedence to conventional old master compositions; principally of nobility or elevated mythological subjects substituting trite historical symbolism with contemporary costume and fashion elements drawing the viewer into the present. Such anachronism filters our impression of the past and emphasizes the difference in dialogue between old and new. 

Inspired by people surrounding her in everyday life, her portraits deal with youth and transition; she views her subjects as actors but her portraits are equally a depiction of the individuals’ personality as of her own imagined narrative. Costume helps her to question notions of identity, sexuality, gender stereotypes and beauty standards. For example: clothes, which deliberately look awkward or ill fitting becoming the physical manifestation of a characters’ psychological transition. Sometimes this may take the form of obvious or more subtle cross-dressing. In doing so she hopes to highlight many ongoing questions of gender recognition and stereotyping, by creating portraits in which gender is either subtly defused, or embraced in full, upsetting fixed conventions.

Georgina Clapham is a Painting and Printmaking student originally from the south of England now living and working in Glasgow. She has recently completed the Richard Ford Award travel scholarship to the Museo del Prado, Madrid and has undertaken commissions including a portrait for Scottish law firm Harper Macleod to commemorate their sponsorship of the Common Wealth Games 2014.

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