Cathy Lomax is a London based painter. Her work is a contemporary and personal exploration of identity, beauty and celebrity through the lens of film, fashion and art history. Lomax has an MA Fine Art from Central St Martins and is the director of Transition Gallery in East London. She also edits two art and culture magazines, Arty and Garageland. In 2023 she completed a PhD at Queen Mary University of London in which she investigated the role of makeup in the Hollywood female star image.
  Lomax won the Contemporary British Painting Prize in 2016, was an Abbey Painting Fellow at the British School at Rome in 2014 and was shortlisted for the East London Painting Prize in 2014 and 2015.


Emphatically a figurative painter, Cathy Lomax is best known for her uncanny renderings of existing images. Mostly taken from films and popular culture, Lomax does not paint straight reproductions, but versions of characters, film stills and scenes from cultural memory – at once familiar and made strange by her signature muted tones. This is quite different from taking an existing story or image and producing one particular vision of it. Nor is it a straightforward representation of what is. Rather, it is an act of transformation. When Lomax paints contemporary myths, she invites us to see them anew, overturning visual expectations, mixing the known and the unfamiliar to create something new. In this way, Lomax doesn’t invent images but rather repurposes them. Then, too, challenges inherent in the execution play an important role: the shape of the canvas; the constraints of a mass media image used as her model, the confluence of diverse inspirations: film, fashion, religious iconography, Tudor portraiture, the paintings of Massimo Campigli amongst others. Much like the Surrealist alchemical act, Lomax combines information from disparate sources to form new narratives and fragmented stories.

Lomax’s vibrant paintings and drawings give expression to a female subjectivity expanding and enriching a very male dominated mass culture which has shaped desires and identities. Her work is positioned in antithesis to imagery - especially that of Hollywood and beauty magazines - that constructed, reflected and circulated gender stereotypes. By focusing on scenes that perpetuate a wide range of common female social roles, or personas like the femme fatale, Lomax calls the viewer’s attention to the powerful machinery and make-up that lay behind these images in order to question their pervasiveness. She takes the viewer beyond the glossy surface of pin up imagery to find a visual language that gives form to a vibrant female subjectivity. Much like her predecessor Pauline Boty, Lomax seems to be suggesting a new myth for women: a myth in which female sexuality becomes the opposite of an object - energized, autonomous, and assertive.

Lomax explores the way experience is mediated through the mass communications. On a first layer, her visceral paintings deal with imagery from popular culture. A closer look, however reveals that the drawings and paintings move between emotional poles. Works like Screenshot, 2017 and Lara, 2001 speak of anxiety and despair, while others like Static Electricity, 2017 and Black Venus, 2014-5 speak of desire in a witty, self-conscious way. Many of these drawings and paintings ultimately deal with the complexity of human relationships and the feelings that accompany them – desire, longing, fear, constraint, subjects familiar to all. Ultimately, Cathy Lomax’s works become psychological landscapes, an attempt to explore the inner human topography of their protagonists.

Alkistis Tsabouraki
Art Historian & Writer


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