In this oil painting from 2021, Gillian Wearing expands on her Lockdown self-portraits by inserting herself into a 1877 painting by the French artist, Henri Fantin-Latour (1836 to 1904) entitled La Lecture (The Reading). The original painting depicts two women in a domestic setting, one of whom reads aloud from a book, while the other sits beside her listening. In her version, Wearing takes the place of the listener, but crops the image, shifting the focus from the act of reading to the relationship between the two figures. As in her Spiritual Family photographic series, Wearing assumes the identity of a historical figure, but here she plays the role of a subject rather than an artist. Carefully studying her female companion, she imagines herself in a time and place that limited women’s social lives to private spaces – not unlike those featured in Lockdown.
Charles Ray’s Archangel (2021) was conceived for an exhibition in Paris. Shocked by terrorist attacks like the one that occurred in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, Ray envisioned the archangel Gabriel, a guardian figure in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, alighting onto unstable ground.
Hey, do you remember where we were at this time last year? Shut away in our homes with no fun stuff to do except take long walks, order food for delivery, and binge-watch Netflix. Some of us are still doing that.