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Claudette Johnson

Johnson (b. 1959, Manchester) is adept at capturing her sitters’ physical attitudes, by turns defiant and wary, funny and challenging, and often with a tender intimacy. Her formal mastery in framing the figure is sharply observed and in conversation with the histories of figuration and the black body in European art. She explores how women in particular occupy space and how the figure can ‘reach out to the boundaries of the frame… sometimes existing beyond.’ Working at large scale, the artist has developed a technique of drawing that she has compared to dancing and jazz in its stretching, rhythm and moments of improvisation.

Recent solo exhibitions include I Came to Dance, Modern Art Oxford (2019) with a forthcoming show at Hollybush Gardens, London, in 2021. Johnson also participated in Close: Drawn Portraits, The Drawing Room, London (2018) and The Place Is Here, South London Gallery, London, and Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2017). Her work is held in collections including Tate, Arts Council, British Council and the Rennie Collection Vancouver, BC.

Johnson has generously taken part in the fourth edition of  School Printscreating a limited edition print that will be donated to local schools and sold exclusively from The Hepworth Wakefield shop to fund the engagement work with schools. Of the project she said:

“I thought it important to support the project because I remember, as a school child, gazing at the Bruegel, Picasso and Canaletto prints that hung along the corridors of my secondary school. I took it for granted that art would be available to look at and think about as I moved around the school. I believe this should be every child’s birthright.”