Josephine King (b.1965, London) shows self-portraits that describe the trauma caused by the artists own extreme bi-polar disorder, in
Life So Far, her debut solo exhibition at Riflemaker
from 13 September.
Riflemaker presents 80 coloured ink paintings made by King over the last five years. These full-length portraits, and often distressing texts that frame them, express some of the confusion and isolation of her illness. Yet, rather than being depressing, the work is intimate and inspiring.
The paintings fuse the decorative aspect of Kings previous ceramic work with bleak subject matter - melancholia, drug abuse, destructive relationships. The painting style is intensely colourful, almost Fauvist, featuring the artist in a variety of starched and patterned clothing often holding a 'prop' a knife, pills, a tube of paint.
The poster-like composition of Kings paintings points to an innate faculty for and interest in design, perhaps influenced by the work and collections of her father, the designer and photographer David King. 'Life so Far' demonstrates a keen interest in many disparate sources, from haute couture and classical Indian portraiture, to Victoriana, Art Nouveau and the decorative arts.
King has suffered from bipolar disorder her entire life. The illness, which was not officially diagnosed until 1999, has on occasions unbalanced her life to such a degree that she has attempted suicide. She grew up in the bohemia of late 1960s north London and has subsequently spent prolonged periods in Amsterdam, Berlin, China, India, Moscow and in Portugal, where she modelled for Paula Rego. She can be seen as the stepmother in Regos 1995 work Snow White and her Stepmother.
King studied at the prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (1989-92) and achieved early success for her ceramics, being the only professional artist-in-residence at Lisbons renowned azulejos museum of tiles (1993-95). She also studied at the École National Supérieure Des Arts Décoratifs (1991) and at AR.CO in Lisbon (1993-94).
She has had exhibitions of painted tiles at Lisbons Gallery Ratton (African Blues, 1994 and Equus, 1999); and the Dutch Tile Museum, Nederlanse Tegelmuseum in Otterlo (Portuguese Diary, 1998). She was artist-in-residence at the Zoological Museum in Amsterdam studying and painting butterflies and insects (1997-98).