PAUL GRAHAM Mother

Paul Graham’s Mother contains 14 portraits, all but one of which are studies of Graham’s elderly mother, Dorothy, as she dozes in an armchair in an English retirement home.

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PAUL GRAHAM Mother

Paul Graham’s Mother contains 14 portraits, all but one of which are studies of Graham’s elderly mother, Dorothy, as she dozes in an armchair in an English retirement home.

Artists drawing or painting their mother has become iconic in art history—from Whistler through Freud, Cezanne, Hockney, Ingres, Gauguin or Durer, whose brutally honest portraits of his mother insisted that ‘Even the smallest wrinkles and veins must not be ignored’. Paul Graham’s first major body of work since 2014’s Does Yellow Run Forever? contains portraits of his elderly mother sitting in her chair.

Graham’s camera hardly moves, with his mother asleep, eyes closed, in almost every image. Our palette is the gentle tones of old age—a flowered blouse, a pink or lavender cardigan—the light comes from a single daylight window, soft, natural and constant. With little attempt to photographically ‘entertain’ us, we begin to notice subtle shifts of carefully chosen focus, from one eye to another, to a loose thread on a button or a stray wisp of hair. Frozen in time, the fraying of life is expressed through modest details. Powerful emotional resonance arrives through tender observation.

Mortality and the slow unravelling of late old age is the principal subject here, but there is also a duality at the core of these images: as we teeter between life and death, child and parent reverse roles—the watched-over becomes the watcher, the created becomes the creator.

You can browse more Photobooks here.

 

Read The Reviews

“Mother is […] an exploration of old age as a kind of hinterland, a suspended state in which the world shrinks to the size of a room and consciousness fragments. Throughout, Graham’s patient, painterly approach demands and repays attentiveness, and one’s eye is drawn inevitably to small details” – Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian

 

Mack Books

Mack is a global publisher of award-winning books on art, photography and critical studies. Founded by Michael Mack in London 2010. They work with established and emerging artists, writers and curators, as well as cultural institutions.

Additional information

Publisher

Mack Books

Publication Size

24 x 31.5 cm

Book Type

Artist

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