British artist Liorah Tchiprout’s drawings and prints incorporate an expressive treatment of line that connects the artist’s work to the figurative tradition of the twentieth century modernist Oskar Kokoschka and yet remains intertwined with contemporary personal experience and philosophical and literary concerns. Tchiprout shares with Kokoschka a commitment to subjectivity, a vision engendered by figuration that exists between observation and psychological impact. As Kokoschka sought to depict the hauntingly intimate world of his own life and that of his sitters, Tchiprout similarly allows an incisive and eerie atmosphere to emerge through the use of graphic monochromatic mark making, dark shadow and negative space intersected by a graphic chiaroscuro and painterly application of pigment. However, the artist’s approach to these worlds of intimacy has an entirely different function — the creation of a world of women as a form of radicalism.
Tchiprout begins her process by working from life as well as puppets she constructs from clay, fabric, and hair, these objects functioning as strange models. The artist’s gestural work arrives at a narratival synthesis of the observed world with imagined theatre: “… the characters I make interact on the stage of paper. They perform incoherent stories from a multitude of sources, including novels, especially writers such as Phillip Roth and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Old Testament and personal interactions.” She also notes an interest in the work of R.B. Kitaj particularly because of the relationship to Jewish literary traditions, in addition to James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert. Tchiprout notes: “My work is underpinned by a love of Goya, both as a painter and graphic artist. I’m searching for a sort of punction and confronting gaze in my work, I believe that search comes from being utterly captivated by John Singer Sargent and Velasquez.” Contemporary influences include Ana Maria Pacheco and Marcelle Hanselaar.
In her most recent series, Tchiprout builds upon the work of philosopher Gillian Rose’s autobiographical Loves Work. “Rose states: ‘There is no democracy in any love relation: only mercy.’ Tchiprout says, “Many of the book’s themes lead me to become interested in the exchange of power within intimate relationships: psychological dependency, cruelty; how women might seduce men for reasons other than desire. I found visual metaphors in my existing practice for these - how dolls can be a conduit for empathy but at the same time are detached; inanimate. I started to work with the images of Judith with the head of Holofernes, and Lot and his daughters, as extensions of this. A coy Judith presents the severed head as the unavoidable product of her own (perhaps unintended) mercilessness.”
Within this haunting and expressive world, a place of authenticity, desire, and storytelling resides a creation of masterly atelier practice. In her gestural work, Tchiprout connects modernist artistic technique with theatre, autobiographical imagery, and contemporary concerns. In doing so, she seeks to evoke a place that tells the stories of women and girls and serves to become a space where they can “liaise, interact, and plot.”
Rosa JH Berland