Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow

Somaya Critchlow’s canvases and sketchbooks log an ongoing process of world building. The artist fashions these realms by drawing upon her expansive knowledge of picture-making traditions ranging from the Renaissance to the Rococo. In charting the ever-expanding dimensions of this female dominated universe, Critchlow casually disarms the distinctions that inform concepts of high and low culture by uncovering the ways in which class and racial difference are routinely conflated. The voluptuous, self-possessed women who explore Critchlow’s fantasy landscapes and pensively occupy domestic interiors or otherwise blank pages owe as much to the aesthetics of Love and Hip Hop as they do to Peter Paul Rubens, and thus prompt the viewer to consider the disparate ways in which we esteem these forms of culture—and the women they feature.

Critchlow’s women are endowed by their creator with a redoubling power that echoes across different media: figures that emerge against the fresh page of a sketchbook as a network of willowy, animated lines or in the simple miniatures of the artist’s early work reappear in later, more technically ambitious paintings, unflinchingly meeting the viewer’s gaze. The rich strata of thinned oils that make up these recent canvases are evocative of the liquid dark of Velázquez but also of the somber meditations on desire and mortality found in Dutch still life traditions, which are echoed in the insect-bedeviled fruits and hazy mirrors that have of late joined Critchlow’s cast of characters. Well-versed in the seductive language of painting, Critchlow indulges viewers’ automatic equivocation of the female nude with endlessly available pleasure, while simultaneously breaking with the genre’s traditions to thwart these attempts at possession.

Somaya Critchlow (b. 1993, London) lives and works in London. She obtained her BA in Painting at the University of Brighton before joining The Royal Drawing School, London, where she earned a Postgraduate Diploma in 2017. In October 2022, Critchlow will exhibit her second solo show at Maximillian William, London. Previous solo exhibitions include Blow-Up, Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zürich (2021), Underneath a Bebop Moon, Maximillian William, London (2020) and Sincere for Synonym at Fortnight Institute, New York (2019). Recent group exhibitions include Women Painting Women, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2022); The Soul as Sphere, Maximillian William, London (2022); Drawing Attention: Emerging British Artists, British Museum, London (2022); Sweet Lust, White Cube, Paris (2022); Get Lifted!, curated by Hilton Als, Karma, New York (2021) and Mixing it Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London (2021). In November 2022, Critchlow will present work in the group exhibition Lucian Freud and The Soul As Sphere which she has curated for The Lightbox, Woking. Critchlow’s work is featured in public collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; LACMA, Los Angeles; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; RISD Museum, Providence; ICA Miami, Florida; the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich and the Arts Council Collection, London.

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SELECTED WORKS

EXHIBITIONS

PUBLICATIONS

PRESS

Aug04
ARTSY
ARTSY

“8 Artists Making Small Paintings Who Prove Size Isn’t Everything” by Samuel Anderson

August 2022
Jul29
FORBES
FORBES

“‘Women Painting Women’ At The Modern Art Museum Of Fort Worth” by Chadd Scott

July 2022
Jan15
T-LIST
T-LIST

‘Painting Herself Into the Canon’ by Kin Woo

January 2022
Jan15
THE TIMES
THE TIMES

‘Five Artists to Check Out This Year’

January 2022
Nov18
ART REVIEW
ART REVIEW

‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’ – Review’ by David Trigg

November 2021
Oct28
BLAU INTERNATIONAL
BLAU INTERNATIONAL

‘Fully Chromatic,’ by Alison M Gingeras

October 2021
Sep13
THE SUNDAY TIMES
THE SUNDAY TIMES

‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’ reviewed by Waldemar Januszczak

September 2021
Sep09
THE GUARDIAN
THE GUARDIAN

‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’ reviewed by Adrian Searle

September 2021
Sep09
TIME OUT
TIME OUT

‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’ 5* review by Eddy Frankel

September 2021
Jul03
OBJECTION
OBJECTION

Objects and Figures. Part I by James Ambrose

July 2021
Jun12
Somaya Critchlow: Dazed 100
Somaya Critchlow: Dazed 100

Congratulations to Somaya Critchlow who has been selected as one of the 2021 Dazed 100! Dazed 100 is a global…

June 2021
Feb16
POSTSCRIPT
POSTSCRIPT

Somaya Critchlow featured in Postscript, No.4 – The Reverie Issue

February 2021
Dec02
SSENSE
SSENSE

Somaya Critchlow in Conversation with Dan Thawley

December 2020
Oct20
PURPLE DIARY
PURPLE DIARY

Somaya Critchlow interviewed by Olivier Zahm

October 2020
Oct15
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM

Postcards in Isolation 28: Somaya Critchlow and Dorothea Tanning’s Interior with Sudden Joy, 1951 by Rochelle Roberts

October 2020
Sep18
OFFICE
OFFICE

Somaya Critchlow and the Erotics of Projection

September 2020
Jul13
I NEWS
I NEWS

Ella Kruglyanskaya, Sarah Lucas, Somaya Critchlow — the Best Art Exhibitions by Women Open Now

July 2020
Jun13
ARTSY
ARTSY

With Kitsch and Eroticism, Somaya Critchlow Confronts the Politics of the Black Nude

June 2020
Jun11
PURPLE DIARY
PURPLE DIARY

Somaya Critchlow’s “Underneath a Bebop Moon” at Maximillian William, London

June 2020
Feb15
ARTSY
ARTSY

These Emerging Black Artists Are the Future of Figurative Painting

February 2020

RELATED CONTENT

Aug04
ARTSY
ARTSY

“8 Artists Making Small Paintings Who Prove Size Isn’t Everything” by Samuel Anderson

August 2022
Jul29
FORBES
FORBES

“‘Women Painting Women’ At The Modern Art Museum Of Fort Worth” by Chadd Scott

July 2022
May28
Somaya Critchlow: Women Painting Women
Somaya Critchlow: Women Painting Women

Somaya Critchlow is included in the group exhibition Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, which brings…

May 2022
May12
Somaya Critchlow: Fire Figure Fantasy
Somaya Critchlow: Fire Figure Fantasy

Somaya Critchlow’s Small Fire, 2020 is featured in Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from the ICA Miami’s Collection, the most comprehensive…

May 2022
Apr30
Somaya Critchlow: Walter Sickert
Somaya Critchlow: Walter Sickert

Somaya Critchlow has contributed a text ‘On Sickert’s Reframing of the Nude,’ to the exhibition catalogue which accompanies ‘Walter Sickert,’…

April 2022
Mar15
Somaya Critchlow: Drawing Attention: Emerging British Artists
Somaya Critchlow: Drawing Attention: Emerging British Artists

Opening 17 March 2022, Somaya Critchlow is included in the group exhibition Drawing Attention: Emerging British Artists at the British…

March 2022