Corinne Charton

Corinne Charton: Portraiture Unmasked

Alexandra M. Kokoli

Corinne Charton lifts images from the margins (and occasionally the centre) of the art historical canon as well as from the glut of photographs of the famous and the anonymous. Her titles are also sometimes lifted from the tabloid press and irreverently repurposed. Thoroughly contemporary words (‘I hope my lover will not chip a tooth when he goes down in my newly vajazzled lady bits’) are placed in the mouths of fashionable women of their time, vividly if incompletely rendered in hues similar to their originals but set against backgrounds lifted  from elsewhere. In Charton’s video work, the revelatory promise of portraiture is further disturbed through facial mashups, splicing, reordering and sound desynchronization. In the age of face lifts and transplants, faces hold back their truth, obscuring their assumed transparency. The artist probes and comments on these emergent conditions by giving form to their potential fallout.

Charton’s deceiving portraits and withholding close-ups do not partake in a postmodern ‘emptiness of the image’ (Parveen Adams, The Emptiness of the Image: Psychoanalysis and Sexual Differences, Routledge, 1995). Rather, an unexpected and disorienting plenitude flows out of these representational shells. Beneath the hollowed out faces lies a motley crew of passions and ideas: the eternal vicissitudes of carnality; love lost and found; the feminist art historical imperative of (re)discovering women artists of the past; that old chestnut, looking and being looked at; the troubled marriage between images and meaning; and last but not least, the pleasures of painting and making. Liberated from their codes and contexts, the artist’s materials (canvas and pixels, skin, eyes, landscape and audio fragments, the contrived blankness of studio interiors) are launched into wayward adventures. All there is for us to do is follow them.

Alexandra M. Kokoli is BA Fine Art Joint Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Middlesex University and Research Associate at VIAD, University of Johannesburg. Her monograph The Feminist Uncanny in Theory and Art Practice is published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2016




Following a career as a fashion model Corinne Charton decided to pursue her interest in art at Central Saint Martins with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, 2003 and went on to complete her MA in Fine Art at Middlesex university in 2106.  She has held two solo shows Twin Obsession, The Muse at 269, London (2004) and StART SPACE, London (2006).

Selected group exhibitions include; Truman Brewery London, Heap of Language, Gasworks, London and Oriel Davies Open, all in 2016, as well as The Muse at 269, London (2004), Central St Martins, London (2003), Unmarked, Rossi Gallery, London (2001) and Canon Now Vision, V&A, London (1999).  Her work is in public and private collections, including Central St Martins, University of the Arts London.