This exhibition brings together a selection of paintings made over the last three years, documenting experiences of looking at found imagery, live surveillance camera streams and video chatrooms online. It also includes new works from Hempton’s Self Portrait series. Situated in a carefully crafted and choreographed environment, painted walls resemble broken fort-like structures that exist in opposition to the cropped territorial views the paintings depict.
'Like walking around the edges of a city, the fringes of online space might contain open areas of redundant data, unearthed and recycled contents from failed commercial systems and places that enable chaotic confounding of moral or societal codes. The act of painting here is also an attempt to engage in an experience of looking whereby what is shown is at times remote, indecipherable and disorientating, at others a convincing window into multiple concurrent realities. A security camera might show foliage blowing in the wind for many weeks, then one day reveal a factory floor (the foliage that had grown over the camera later removed), or what appears to be a seascape at night is a railway in the day. A man masturbating in a chat room is a loop of a pre-recorded video behind which a different person or scenario is secretly being enacted. Uncensored death may be presented as fake or real and one's experience can be in flux or immediately flip from one extreme to another, so that whilst some truth is present, the experience is layered, masked and confused. The voyeurism of these activities ultimately initiates an internally scrutinising gaze. One's own psyche is reflected back as each perceived reality is both undermined and aggressively confronted. When as a viewer is our gaze active, passive, consensual, violated, violating?’ Celia Hempton, 2020
Hempton’s art explores concepts of voyeurism in the post-digital age. In her paintings, performances and installations, she investigates the blurred lines of comfort and consent; desire and subjugation, visibility and opacity, seeking to deconstruct the ways in which we engage with humans in an evolving hyper-mediated age. Formally, Hempton’s paintings, which range in size from intimate to the life-size acknowledge the tropes of ‘history painting’ and the often subjugated female body. Hempton's richly layered paintings directly play and confront this historical dynamism, producing tactile celebrations of the body, as well as multiple perspectives on how the bodily gaze is constructed.
Celia Hempton lives and works in London. In recent years her work has been included in exhibitions at ICA Boston, Performance Space 122 NYC, Artspace Sydney, Whitechapel Gallery, London, amongst many others. She has had solo presentations at Gwangju Biennale, Art Night with ICA London, Kunstverein Aachen and performances at Fiorucci Art Trust, Stromboli, Serpentine Galleries, London. Her work will be included in the British Art Show 9 in 2021. It is held in international private and public collections including The Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin, Colombia, The British Council and the Government Art Collection, UK.
Power Dynamics, Celia Hempton Interviewed by Will Fenstermaker
BOMB Magazine, October 2020
United States, 4th August 2020, 2020, oil on gesso panel, 37 x 42 cm
Tokyo, Japan, 18th September 2019, 2019, oil on aluminium, 30 x 35 cm
Untitled, 2019, oil on polyester, 41 x 35 cm
Seoul, South Korea, 18th September 2019, 2019, oil on aluminium, 30 x 40 cm
London, England, 17th October 2019, 2019, oil on linen, 30 x 35 cm
Mutzig, France, 17th May 2020, 2020, oil on linen, 30 x 35 cm