art exhibition installation

Gillian Wearing Lockdown exhibition view: Maureen Paley, London, 2020 © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Lockdown: a word that’s more familiar to most of us now than it was this time last year, and one that’s laden with personal and collective meaning. Taking the word as both title and subject, Gillian Wearing’s latest show at Maureen Paley, London is at once a deeply personal revelation of the artist’s creative response, and a wider, more complex meditation on self and the time in which we now live.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The artworks – a series of new self-portraits, a wax sculpture (Mask, Masked), and a video work (Your Views, 2013 – present) – are displayed in two rooms between which visitors’ movements are choreographed by notices on the walls prescribing physical distancing.

watercolour portrait

Lockdown Portrait 3, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, framed watercolour on paper, 39.5 x 31.5 x 2.6 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

self portrait

Lockdown Portrait 5, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, framed watercolour on paper, 39.5 x 31.5 x 2.6 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Wearing’s self-portraits, made in watercolour, are a product of the prolonged, enforced isolation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. A departure from the photography and videography she is famous for, these small-scale paintings bespeak the self-reflection, both literally and figuratively, which Wearing’s lockdown precipitated. ‘Having represented myself in photography both as myself and as others,’ Wearing writes, ‘I wanted to see how paint and even the manner of painting could change my appearance.’

self portrait painting

Untitled (lockdown portrait), 2020 by Gillian Wearing, oil on board 30.5 x 40.5 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

It might be a new medium but the paintings bear all the marks of the artist’s best-known work: the tensions between public and private, between our inner and outer selves. Think ‘Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’ (1992-93): the police officer whose card reads ‘HELP’. Here, it is Wearing’s own quizzical eyes staring over the viewer’s shoulder, lost in thought, her hair tied up or loose, torso loosely sketched. How do we construct our identities, these pictures ask, how do we perform them?

Read more: British artist Hugo Wilson on creating art from chaos

mask sculpture

Mask Masked, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, fabric mask, wax sculpture, steel rod and wooden plinth, 56 x 14 x 10 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Mask, Masked underlines this question in fleshy three-dimensions. A severed hand reaches skyward, holding a life-like mask of Wearing’s face, eyes removed to reveal the wall behind. Over the mouth and nose is a second mask, reminiscent of the now ubiquitous face coverings worn in public spaces. An impossible masquerade ball attendee, the uncanny sculpture makes manifest the layers of concealment, of fiction, at play in person-to-person interactions, another layer added by the culture of the pandemic.

In a second room, Your Views, Wearing’s open-submission video work, brings together short clips of contributors’ ‘views’ from homes throughout the world, revealed when curtains or blinds are drawn back. Using footage taken during lockdown, including the ‘clap for carers’ celebrations, Your Views is a collage of lived experience. Rather than examine a face, this time the viewer tries on others’ masks, looks out onto the unfolding world. You might not see yourself in Wearing’s lockdown, her artistic response to its solitude, but the artist demonstrates your response has been creative too: your views are here, you are not alone.

‘Lockdown’ by Gillian Wearing runs until 25 October 2020. The exhibition is open by appointment. For more information visit:

Tom Cornelius

Reading time: 3 min
Painting of naked woman hugging a woman in a red dress by Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele, Mother and Daughter, 1913 © Leopold Museum, Vienna

It’s the 100th anniversary of Austrian painter, Egon Schiele’s death and despite his short life (he died at the age of 28), he was one of the singularly most influential artists of 20th century – alongside his friend and mentor Gustav Klimt – and today, his paintings are still the subject of intrigue and controversy.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Unbelievably, a series of advertisements showing Schiele’s contorted nudes were rejected by Transport for London in 2017 for being too sexually explicit and were also blocked by the anti-nudity restrictions on Facebook – imagine the stir they must have caused a century ago!

The posters of the artworks in the underground were covered up by slogans reading, 100 years old but still too daring today #ToArtItsFreedom provoking questions of censorship and conservatism by pointing out just how little attitudes have changed. In many ways, it’s a repeat of discussions around the artist’s work in war-time Vienna; many considered the Schiele’s paintings to be pornographic or ‘degenerate art’.

Black and white photograph of Egon Schiele with one of his paintings

Anton Josef Trcka, Egon Schiele next to his 1913 painting “Encounter”, which is now lost, © Leopold, Private Collection

The Jubilee Exhibition at the Leopold Museum has no such scruples, displaying a vast range of the artist’s paintings including images of young girls and his famous nudes, which are charged with sexuality, vitality and torture.

Read next: Spring weekends in Paris: Le Corbusier, Monet & true decadence

Self portrait painting of Egon Schiele in striped shirt by Austrian artist Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Striped Shirt, 1910 © Leopold Museum, Vienna

But it’s not all bare skin and open legs: Schiele also produced a body of poetic work, which were designed almost as graphic works of art, focusing on similar topics to his paintings with a similar kind of distorted quality, using strange word combinations and syntax to create a particular kind of atmosphere.  The originals of Schiele’s poems form part of the Leopold collection and whilst they might not display the same kind of mastery as his paintings, it’s a fascinating insight into a complex and energetic mind (providing you speak German…).

Millie Walton

‘Egon Schiele: The Jubilee Show’ runs until 4 November 2018 at the Leopold Museum, MuseumsQuartier, Vienna


Reading time: 1 min