Art has always been a family affair for the Freuds. But during most of her career, Jane McAdam has avoided too direct reference to her father Lucian and grandfather Sigmund, choosing almost as an act of rebellion a medium relatively untouched by her relatives: sculpture.
Until McAdam reached 31, Lucian Freud was a distant figure in her life, a terrifying enigma, perhaps, as she found her own way to art. It's only when McAdam became a recognized sculptor in her own right, that the two finally reconnected.
"At that time I saw my father regularly and, over about six months, we made sculpture," she said. "While we sat for each other, modeling in wax, we chatted a lot and he taught me about light – to work from natural daylight or electric light, but not both at the same time. He taught me what it meant to really concentrate. He looked with every inch of his body, his muscles, and nerves, his whole being."
Freud accepted to pose for his daughter, who finished a series of sketches of the painter just before his death. These were the basis of her monumental sculpture of Lucian Freud's head, "EarthStone Triptych," unveiled at the Freud Museum last January.
For "Family Matters," which opened yesterday at Gazelli Art House, McAdam has gathered works featuring her family members — including her half-sister Annabel and her children — as well as a bust combining her own face with her father's. The artist who was once so keen to make her mark alone has now fully embraced her own place in the family history.
And yet the show clearly attempts to go beyond Freuds' specifics. McAdam sees her sculptural practice, and her manipulation of clay in particular, as a metaphor for the cycle of life. "'Family Matters' is very much about process," she told ARTINFO UK. "It results from the contemplation of life and death and the fact of working with 'matter' as in the materials of sculpture. We come from matter and return to matter. The materials I work with themselves belong to a kind of family."
"Family Matters, Works by Jane McAdam Freud," April 24 – May 25, 2012, Gazelli Art House, London, UK