CHRISTINE LAFON: OPEN STUDIOS
Christine Lafon is an artist of wide scope. Her show begins with portraits of huge immediacy – her subjects so well realized they appear to spring from the walls with an uncanny familiarity. Initially it is hard to discern the medium. Are these drawings or photographs? Although portraits like the arresting ‘Girl in a Winter Coat ‘ that greets you at the entrance to Lafon’s studio are in paint the medium of these works of such graphic precision is interestingly unclear.
Christine Lafon was part of the vast generation of young women, from all backgrounds and social classes who were systematically discriminated against in any endeavor, especially art. Before the demands of feminism broke through into parity, it was only the most determined and defiant of women who dared to dig in their heels and insist on an education in art. In fact art study, art school, art itself represented in the male dominated psyche, a form of rebellion, a suspect even dangerous area of Bohemis where families did not want their daughters to wander. Brilliantly talented painters and sculptors simply could not follow Barbara Hepworth into that world of creativity. And there was a corresponding truth in the dangers of the louche male world of mainly male painters. Women were sealed off from art for the most part and only those who had the means to go their own way or the indulgence of a sympathetic father or brother could emerge.
An artist husband often didn’t help. Lee Krasner’s great talent has just begun to emerge from the obliteration of flamboyant husband Jackson Pollock. Her Barbican exhibitions burst with pent-up painting power. Even the widows of St. Ives School painters now find a liberation to paint unavailable when the hard word was ‘ There’s only one painter in this marriage’ as decreed by Peter Lanyon. Yes there was Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Barbara Helpworth but that was where it ended. Other women artists were converted to handmaidens for the great man. Christine Lafon was encouraged by her husband and his benign presence is everywhere in the studio. Her discouragement began much earlier.
Christine Lafon wanted to go to Art School from the outset
“But it was Secretarial School that won out and where I was sent” she admits
The longing for artistic self expression has lasted half a lifetime. Only in the past two or three years has this brilliant painter allowed herself to paint full time and use her remarkable talent with openness and confidence.
‘I paint in silence ‘ she explains ‘ I don’t have music. I come to the canvas with an idea and let it devolve from there on its own’
The results are exceptional. Unique are her abstract paintings combined with concrete still life studies.. She likes to somehow anchor her forays into pure abstraction in the world of perceptible reality and the result is an interesting blend of the real life Cezanne -style depiction of fruit, wonderfully realized, whilst below it the green of the apples melds, in the words of the poet Andrew Marvell ,‘ into a green thought in a green shade”
A painter to watch, Christine Lafon showss from her lovely new garden studio in Stretten Avenue for othe next two weekends.
Christine Lafon’s studio is open for studio visits this weekend, 13th & 14th July, as part of Cambridge Open Studios which runs every weekend in July. www.camopenstudios.co.uks