William Monk is an artist with an acute interest in the way painting is experienced and, accordingly, the ways in which he as a painter can guide those experiences. Monk’s paintings pulsate with ecstatically worked surfaces, an atmospheric palette, and leaps in scale between micro and macro. In each work there is a universe of information to discover. Engaged equally with image and paint, Monk’s paintings remain true to both. As the artist says, “digital images are becoming the de facto way we perceive and process the world, with surface and superficial virtuosity defining momentary meaning. This creates a problem. How to ensure that painting is experienced as a very different form of engagement, and framing as more than the inferred edges of an iMac screen? Although I have taken from the digital world, it is to confront this imagery with physical, organic paintings. Both image and materiality are explored to a point where the final object becomes painting that expresses its origin as much as its conclusion.”
Paravent (Universum) (2014) is not so much a depiction of a forest as a painted equivalent: cropped just short of the forest floor and hung low on the wall, the painting’s dense composition holds the viewer in a place between the physical and mental, primed to revel in the patterns of our inner and outer world. “Rather than have a human presence in the work in a traditional narrative sense,” Monk explains, “I want the viewer to be aware of their own presence in front of the object. I feel to include the human form would act as a barrier to that.“
William Monk (b. 1977, United Kingdom) won the 2005 Royal Award for Painting during his two years in Amsterdam studying at the residency De Ateliers, resulting in widespread, ongoing institutional recognition in Northern Europe. Recent museum group exhibitions include the Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen, the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, and a solo exhibition at the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden. In 2009 he was a recipient of the Jerwood Painting Prize in the United Kingdom, which resulted in a yearlong national touring exhibition. Monk lives and works in London.