Lydia Pettit - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction London Thursday, January 12, 2023 | Phillips

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  • In Presentation, Lydia Pettit presents a cropped view of her squeezed abdomen. She characterises her figurative work as a ‘survey of the self’, including the ‘ugly, traumatised’ side of ourselves.i Using herself as the subject and model, here we see Pettit exploring ambivalent feelings towards the body – squeezing and distorting the stomach as though to scrutinise its size, shape, and appearance. With typical flair, the work is in equal measure confrontational and deeply affecting, tackling head-on her self-perception and the perception of others. 


    Painted with loose brushwork that coheres to create an almost photorealistic effect, Pettit is interested in exposing herself physically and emotionally to portray the facts of her lived experience. In Presentation, she shows her body as it is, bravely and defiantly declaring: ‘This is what I look like. This is what I have been through’.ii As such, her painting is as much about healing, recovery, and broader issues of mental health and resilience as it is about paint, brushwork, colour and light. 


    This is an exemplary work by the award-winning painter. In 2020, Pettit was awarded the Jealous Prize. Pettit is also a two-time recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. She attained her BFA in Painting and Photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She graduated with an MA from Royal College of Art, London in 2020 and has an upcoming solo exhibition at Galerie Judin in Berlin in April 2023.  


    i Correspondence with Wells Fray-Smith, Assistant Curator: Special Projects at Whitechapel Gallery, November 2022.
    ii Ibid.  

    • Description

      Image: Damian Griffiths

      Condition reports, Lot descriptions and information in respect of Lots included in this Online-Only Auction have been prepared exclusively by Whitechapel Gallery following Whitechapel Gallery’s assessment of the Lots. Phillips and its staff are not responsible in any way for such statements, representations or opinions or for any other information provided in respect of the Lots, whether by Whitechapel Gallery, on Phillips website or in any other form.

    • Provenance

      Donated by the artist



signed, titled and dated '"Presentation" 2022 Lydia Pettit' on the reverse
oil on linen
70 x 50 cm (27 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2022.

Full Cataloguing

£6,000 - 8,000 


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Charlotte Gibbs

Head of Sale

+44 20 7901 7993

Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction

Online Auction 12 - 20 January 2023