We meet leading artist Victoria Cantons from her London studios!!! We discuss her autobiographical as well as confessional work. Cantons presents a record of trauma and healing, alongside a rigorous inquiry into the social constraints surrounding gender politics. Deeply informed by her own experience of limitation and stigma, her work reverberates with notions of freedom, selfhood, representation, power and aspects of the human condition which she writes, despite our divergent identities and experiences, "connect us all."
While her incisive and inquisitive creative gaze extends across photography, text and video, painting and drawing remain firmly at the centre of her practice, providing a means of, she writes, "clearing the drainpipes" and exploring the question what can paint and painting do? Her 2022 Flowers Gallery exhibition People Trust People Who Look Like Them presented a series of large self-portraits painted from a personal archive of photographs made over a period of more than a decade in the years before, during, and after intensive facial surgery. Luminous and visceral in their depiction of flesh, the paintings capture the shape-shifting bloom of post-surgical bruising, fading scar tissue, greying hair and the mottled lustre of theatrically applied makeup. Cantons describes the importance of accuracy and honesty in the paintings, saying “I needed to show exactly what this woman has been through.”
Cantons is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on painting. Her works can be best described as figurative and colourist with political undercurrents. Cantons has a transgender history – having transitioned at thirty-nine – and was an only child, growing up in London with a Catholic mother from Spain and Jewish father of French and Russian descent. Because of this background, Cantons is keenly aware of questions concerning boundaries, stigma and freedom. “What we as individuals present to the world is multifaceted and not always visible, a continuous evolution in response to experience and in relationship to each other.” From its content and imagery to its titles, the human condition, gender, and social identity are at the core of her work.
Cantons’s portraits and still lifes are painted in gestural brushstrokes with a limited, muted, palette that tends to evoke feelings of nostalgia. She often depicts youthful figures who shine their individual light upon the treacherous path to adulthood; much like how the tenderness of Spring paves the way for a scalding summer.
Victoria Cantons (b. 1969) lives and works in London. She studied Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon (UAL); followed by Turps Art School, London; and graduated with an MFA in Painting from Slade, UCL in 2021, where she received the Felix Slade Scholarship (2018). Cantons has exhibited her work internationally, with some of her most recent shows at London's Guts Gallery and Flowers Gallery (both 2023), the Tree Art Museum in Beijing (2021), Nicodim Gallery in Los Angeles (2020) and White Cube in London (2020).
Visit her galleries, Flowers Gallery: https://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/1325-victoria-cantons/
Guts Gallery: https://gutsgallery.co.uk/artists/44-victoria-cantons/
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