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"In Praise of Humanity II: Jacob Epstein and Dora Gordine"
2006-01-20 until 2006-03-04
Boundary Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

‘In Praise of Humanity II’, is a sequel to the exhibition with the same title at the Boundary Gallery in 1989, and is the fourth of a series of exhibitions dedicated to Epstein. Bronzes as well as works on paper will be displayed. Epstein’s sculpture has gained him fame in Britain as well as internationally. Currently acknowledged as one of the best portraitist in bronze of the 20th century, he was also remarkable for his gift of draughtsmanship. Epstein’s models ranged from himself, his family, men of fame in many fields and other artists, to a vast array of exotic women.

Self Portrait with a Beard (1920) is one of the two self portraits Epstein ever sculpted. It shows the sculptor as a troubled Bohemian figure revealing truthfully his inner self. In Nan the Dreamer (1911) he depicts a gypsy model following the trend inspired by Augustus John who reigned at the Café Royal. The First Portrait of Isobel (1932) features one of his lovers, with a beautifully sensuous face.

Through his children, Epstein not only learned to capture the restless spontaneity of children, but also moulded portraits once they entered youth, such as the First Portrait of Kitty in her teens, accentuating her long thick locks; or in Third Portrait of Esther which immediately draws one’s attention to her graceful swanlike neck. His works featuring his own children also convey his deep and gentle love of them.

Much of the same expressive force characterises the many drawings he produced throughout his career, though relatively few were preparatory for sculpture and virtually none related to portraiture. ‘Drawing released him to explore the emotional intricacy and sombre mysteries of human experience in his art.’ (Silber). His affinity to Baudelaire’s philosophy, so eloquently expressed in Les Fleurs du Mal, inspired Epstein to create his best drawings. Extremely rare preliminary sketches and finished drawings will also be shown.

‘In Praise of Humanity II’ will also feature a few sculptures by his contemporary, Dora Gordine (1898 -1991). Gordine was, like Epstein, of Eastern European origin and like Epstein, found her way to London via Paris. Although sometimes similar in technique and subject matter, Epstein and Gordine vary in their approach. Where Epstein frequently painted individuals from his immediate circle, Gordine went in search of them in exotic lands. Travelling widely in the Far East, its philosophies and art inspired her to create works such as the Chinese Philosopher (1926) or her series’ of Indian, Mongolian or Malay heads.

Like Epstein, Gordine, set out to capture the souls of her models. Both Epstein and Gordine regularly exhibited at the Leicester Galleries and were actively involved with the Royal Society of Portrait Sculptors. However, Gordine had far fewer shows;her name virtually disappeared after the death of her husband,1966.

This exhibition will coincide with that at the Ben Uri Gallery, also in Boundary Road, featuring Epstein and Gordine.

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