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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').
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
Drawing & watercolour