Celia Paul, My Sisters in Mourning (2015-16) (© Celia Paul 2017, courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro. Photo: Prudence Cuming)
“I became interested in British art when I got tired of American art,” the American writer and art critic Hilton Als said at a press event for the Yale Centre for British Art (YCBA) in New Haven, Connecticut on 2 August—dating this shift to 1999. Als will have the opportunity to share his interest in contemporary British art with an American audience through a three successive solo exhibitions he is organising at the Yale Centre for British Art over the next few years.
The first exhibition, due to open in spring 2018, will feature works by the painter Celia Paul, who befriended Als when he worked on the catalogue for her 2014 solo exhibition at Victoria Miro gallery in London. Als spoke affectionately of the India-born British artist, discussing her precocious talent—she successfully applied to the Slade School of Art in London at age 15—and the unfair way that her romantic relationship with the late painter Lucien Freud (her teacher at the Slade, with whom she had a son) overshadowed her early career. You see the influence of Paul’s work on Freud’s work at the time, not the other way round, Als said.
Als—who has previously organised solo shows of Paul's work at Victoria Miro and the New York Metropolitan Opera—is collaborating with the artist on the YCBA show. Among the recent works they have selected is a moving, hushed and monotone portrait of Paul’s sisters (she is the fourth of five daughters) sitting in a quiet semicircle, hands folded in their laps, painted after the death of their mother (My Sisters in Mourning, 2015-16).
In 2019, Als is due to organise an exhibition of works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye—who currently has a solo exhibition at the New Museum in New York—and in 2020, a show of works by Peter Doig. Als will write about the three artists for a book that the YCBA plans to publish after the series of exhibitions.