CAMBRIDGE, UK – Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge is presenting the first major exhibition in the UK of Michelle Charles. A British artist, she lived and worked in America for more than twenty years, exhibiting with the John Weber Gallery, before returning to London in 2001.
Michelle Charles’ paintings and drawings are concerned with how we look at things and the slippery relationship between what we see and what we remember. Her subjects are single, everyday domestic objects: glasses of milk and empty glasses, bars of soap, scrubbing brushes, tea towels, and knitting.
Michelle Charles writes: ‘What concerns me is how painting’s fluidity and malleability as a medium is able to translate objects into liquid and translucent states . . . I am particularly interested in the relationship between vision and memory – what is lost, forgotten or retained’.
She works in series. In repeating a motif she explores the possibility of how we might see the same thing in many ways – the way the light falls, the angle we see the object from, how much attention we pay.
Recent series include drawings of flies and the knitting and unraveling of wool. Her paintings and drawings combine a deft fluency and economy of gesture. In the exhibition catalogue, New York art critic Dore Ashton writes: ‘It requires great skill, great craft, to reduce an object to its essence in just a few swift strokes of the brush. Charles succeeds – again and again and again and again.’
The catalogue also includes an essay by art critic Guy Brett. He writes: ‘Michelle Charles has not yet finished exploring all the possible inflections and subtle nuances that a single, simple object can be invested with. Or, that could be put the other way round. She has shown and continues to show us the extraordinary freedom and inventiveness of the brush stroke that issues from and returns to a single form.’
Works in the exhibition will be for sale. Michelle Charles has been supported by Arts Council England in her preparation for this exhibition.