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'Standing Figure with African Masks' is a monolithic drawing of a female figure standing with her hands on her hips and her stomach exposed. Seen from a low viewpoint, she gazes directly down on the viewer, with a bold expression on her face. The figure’s skin and watch are rendered in dense pastel while her clothes – blue jeans, red shirt and black headscarf – are painted with loose brushstrokes of gouache paint with thick white inflections. Although not considered by the artist as a self-portrait, this is the first recognisable image that British artist Claudette Johnson has made of herself. It was drawn from life in the artist’s studio in East London, using a small mirror placed on a chair. The resulting vertiginous perspective heightens the confident stance held by the central character (indeed, the original title of the work was 'Brazen Woman').
Standing Figure with African Masks
Pastel and gouache on paper
H 151.5 x W 122 cm
Purchased using funds provided by the 2018 Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor to benefit the Tate collection 2019