Alex Williams Exhibition 2018
Tuesday May 1, 2018
New Works – ‘Off Grid and Other Animals’
Private View: Sunday 6th May 2018, 11am – 4pm.
The Exhibition continues until Saturday 26th May, 5pm.
Alex Williams combines the pastoral painting of Allingham and Redgrave with a 21st century eye for surface pattern that combines objective detail with his subjective vision. The timeless nature of the farm-yard seems no less timeless for the modern farm machinery – he catches the magic of the now in the ageless landscape.
Alex Williams is a contemporary of mine and we share a similar background in our art-school experience – his at St Martin’s School of Art, mine at Hornsey. Alex has developed his work through teaching, by virtue of his polymathic knowledge of the practice of painting and of art generally, and through his lifelong devotion to painting and drawing. This is an experience shared by many who enjoyed the generalist liberties of art-school. Alex brings a unique vision to his painting – he enjoys the discovery and the creation of patterns inspired by Britain’s countryside, by its farms, its animals, its fruit and its harvest.
Alex has a painterly eye, and his facility with brush and pencil is happily not restricted to mere illustration – to the pictorial representation of nature. Rather he seems to assemble a cast of animals, artefacts, birds, vegetables and of agriculture, and disposes these in complex, slightly flattened, images. These combine his love of patterns and of unity in variety with a painterly imaging, a love of his subject and the solidity of his draftsmanship. He brings the same intensity to Royal Mangalitzer and to the old Mini – both subjects part of the modern farmyard, both sharing an iconic posture and perspective; in both he uses his brushwork to amplify their condition.
There is a stark magic that bonds Williams’ paintings, as if he is gripped by a vision of our countryside, not the magic of photo-realism but rather a painterly magic: an impressionism sharpened and solidified in chiaroscuro; an intense vision, and a loving one. Some of this magical quality is due to his bending the pictorial space to flatten it towards the viewer – in a kind of mediaeval, pre-perspective manner.
Part of this magic, too, is his love of pattern and his treatment of the kinds of everyday activities, artefacts and animals he loves: the ducks, the cows, the farmyard and the tractor, some in an aerial perspective where everything is magically sharp, some in close-up, many infused with the kind of typology and classification that you associate with the museum. All are captured through his facility with oils and colours; he has a fascination with unity in variety – that aspect of the beautiful we sometimes overlook.
Often, there is a really touching quality in the individual creatures – in those cows staring at us and turning toward us, in the abandoned car, in the old tractor, in the farmyards, that gives them a personality and a particularity preserved in Williams’ tender vision and his rich images.
Professor Bob Cotton 2018
© Fosse Gallery Fine Art 2018