"The Essence of Mortality" – Cecilia Ulfsdotter Klementsson

When looking at Stockholm-based painter Cecilia Ulfsdotter Klementsson’s works, they often encourage the viewer to grasp at what they are already familiar with; her figures, pilfered from the fashion campaigns of the late 90s and early 2000s, are etched into many of our minds already. However, there remains that which is reminiscent of simulacra, what Klementsson refers to as the “uncanny” – these bodies, formerly (almost) commodities in their photographic perfection, have been represented here in their corporeal reality. Instead of re-gifting them the gleaming sheen of unblemished skin, Klementsson works to return the essence of mortality to their bodies; in an artist statement available on her website, she writes aptly, “I circle the corruption of the body and all its flaws.”

Yet, for as “flawed” as these images may be, they prove transfixing. This can be attributed partly to the layering of color in Klementsson’s work: she paints with only four colors, in what she calls a “manual silk screen printing process,” creating an almost hypnotic blend of tones. What’s more, painting men in otherwise “feminized” positions and vice versa, this element of the uncanny returns: so close to what we have all come to recognize at a mere glance, these slight alterations categorize the images as distinct. At their large sizes – Klementsson is known for the scale of her images – these distinctions become eveloping; larger than life.

As a result, Klementsson has become one to watch: currently pursuing a Master’s at London’s Royal College of Art, she already carries an impressive CV, having exhibited in her native Sweden, Germany, the UK, as well as Australia, having called Perth home for five years in the early 2010s. Now looking to put her stamp on the British art world, few are in a better position to do so: as the world opens back up into a moment when we are all so thoroughly aware of our own corporeality, her work is sure to turn heads.

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After Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair Cover March 2006 Issue

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