1981, London, UK) has certainly been receiving a lot of critical attention recently, and if the buzz around Galerie Sultana’s stand at this year’s Paris Internationale is anything to go by, the artist looks set for wider public awareness as well.Hempton’s paintings are graphic and sensual explorations of flesh.However, Celia Hempton’s paintings stand out as plain and candid representations of the emergence of a new online culture.Hempton uses the website ‘Chatrandom’ to develop her images; a global network of video chatrooms connecting unknown strangers that is often used for masturbation.‘What I am looking for when painting’, Hempton says, ‘is a situation more important than the painting itself.’ For her series ‘Chat Random’ (2014–ongoing), which was first shown at Southard Reid in London in 2014, the artist utilizes Chatrandom.com, which connects global users via webcam – usually for the purposes of masturbation.Hempton asks random men if she can paint them, and then, brush in one hand and typing with the other, she depicts as much of the on-screen feed as the subject’s patience – or arousal – allows.
Paintings where Hempton was given longer to interact with her subject have been worked and reworked whilst she intensely studies the body, whereas the more fleeting connections lead to a fluid and immediate response that is often extremely graphic or unfinished.
(2015), for example, is lithe to the point of quivering: the tangerine background playing against the plummy brown of the subject’s pouchy testicles, ice-green strokes giving swell to his buttocks.
Yet, there is an evacuated quality, too; the larger expanse of skin carries an anaemic cast. The frontal framing of buttocks in (1980), but the comparison serves to show up the former’s odd docility, the subject aimless in his blue surroundings.
Although Hempton’s nudes are typically titled with proper names, they are impersonal, their faces cropped out.
They communicate something unknowable and ungraspable in even the frankest exposure of the body; try to clasp (2015), and she would slip between your palms like an icicle.