A LUMINOUS WORLD

– PICASSO’S MUSE SYLVETTE DAVID / LYDIA CORBETT A Celebration at 80 1st – 21st November 2015

A Luminous World – A Celebration at 80 of work by Lydia Corbett (née Sylvette David) takes place at The Fosse Gallery, The Manor House, The Square, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1AF from Sunday 1st to Saturday 21st November 2015.

This exhibition is one of Corbett’s most comprehensive, bringing together early and late works, the watercolours and oils of the past 30 years. This follows on from the major exhibition at Kunsthalle Bremen, Sylvette | Picasso and the Model in 2014. Many of the works attest to a return to source. Memories of Picasso, of the inner life of objects, she recaptures Sylvette as a girl, the motifs of her art through a process of assimilation and reduction – a vase of flowers, an old kettle, a church, the horses, the hammocks, the dappled sunshine of Camaret in Provence and the Mediterranean sea. If her paintings sometimes recall the presence of Piero della Francesca or Byzantium, or even Klimt, or Chagall, Marino Marini, it remains distinctly her own work and part of a live tradition in allegorical figures and motifs. Prices range from £500 – £7,000.

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Lydia Corbett divides her time between homes in Devon and Provence, In France she lives in the house inherited from her father. Sylvette David learnt to see and draw at home from her mother, Honor David-Gell whose had studied at the Academie Julian. Lydia’s father Marie-Louis Immanuel David also lived in the world of paintings, being a Paris art dealer. Her sensibilities were perfectly primed for the meeting with Picasso in 1954 which would change her life. Her work encompasses attitudes to daily life, to growing up and bringing up children, but it also shows much more. One of the rare attributes that her work possesses is an aura. This is no small achievement for a contemporary artist.

Corbett’s watercolours with their embodiments of transparency, lend themselves to meditations on the here and now. The ethereal face of a young Sylvette often appears to be surfacing. One can sense how much she has had to hold back the gaze of the other all her life. The images of Sylvette embody the prescience of the anointed, something of the sleeping residues of the world. It seems that whilst innocence might be an aspect of the subject, her paintings are wise, and her wisdom as an artist comes from an intense emotional intelligence and sense of empathy with others. It is a gentleness that reveals; and her paintings are a combination of fragility and strength that gravitate towards the latter; they are primed for life. In certain watercolours the works of revision undergo osmosis rather than a transformation, but her opalescent palate, warm toned watercolours are suffused with an intense sensuality.

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In her oil paintings and her watercolours, each subject emanates its auric presence and a property of stillness. Even
work which appears at first glance to be of a reduced subject and simple often has within it unexpected detail or
expression which creates a meditative balance. A dove for Corbett is all birds; a leaf is a whole forest, even when her
works set out as abstractions; it is always in the direction of the world. The simplicity is not a poverty of spirit, it is about transformation.

Whilst Spiritual is an old-fashioned word from a world of greater certainties, the underlying concern of Corbett’s art is about transcendence and revelation from within. Her work is not governed by a metaphysical grand plan, however
individual paintings do embody both moments of vision and offer a sense of permanence, often out of the ephemeral. Her works will us to an abiding stillness, they slow us down in our materialist world. They let us rediscover something elusive in ourselves, without a trace of insistence, an awareness which is otherwise lost.

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Corbett has painted all her life in her mind, she once said, but she did not have time and space to do so literally until she had time to herself when the children went to school. From the beginning in her paintings there were elements of
childhood. That meant the light of the south of France, of Provence and The Drôme. At Dieu Le Fît, she recalled her
adolescence and the poetry she wrote in French. She loved to lie by the open window looking up at the moon. Lydia
remembered how she loved flying dreams and recalls these as both spiritual and intimate connection with the place. Lydia never liked the feeling of being hemmed in by mountains. What others might have found protectiveness she felt as oppressive. Her education was in French at this time. She loved horses, William Blake’s hymns. She was thinking in French in spite of not feeling entirely a French girl. Her mother was a painter, who was soon to work in Vallauris. The paintings of Lydia Corbett embody elements of the uncomprehendingly beautiful. She had a childhood that passed during the Occupation in France. It had been for a while an idyllic childhood, but there was the war to contend with its dangers, hardship and privation.

Corbett’s most recent works have become more expressionistic, they have a rawness and perhaps are also
about the nature of painting itself, about making marks on canvas. This exhibition attests to the abiding questions about the nature and the process of painting, her preoccupations with the sensual side of life allows even the simplest of objects to become apprehended as art. There is an intense sense of joie de vivre in her paintings, which somehow manages to effect a transfiguration in the viewer. Her work is life-enriching, which is a major achievement.

The complete exhibition can be viewed on-line at www.fossegallery.com from mid October. Opening
hours are Monday – Saturday, 10.30am to 5.00pm.

For further press information or high res jpeg images please contact Iona Sale, IONA PR,
01451 832 268, 07721 030 825 or [email protected]

For details of the exhibition please contact Sharon Wheaton on 01451 832 268 or [email protected]

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