2015 – Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles PRESS RELEASE
The Cloud is Growing in the Trees
‘Kohn Gallery is pleased to present London-based painter William Monk’s first exhibition in California: The Cloud is Growing in the Trees. This exhibition is the culmination of Monk’s practice over the last few years during which time he has created universes within his paintings that reflect on the relationship of the object and spectator.
In Monk’s paintings a sense of repetition breaks down the figuration, creating visual mantras in which the human scale of the work increases this subtlety rather than amplifying the model. This rhythm happens throughout Monk’s work, surrendering figurative logic to arrive at something stranger and more powerful. Beautifully atmospheric and energetic, these paintings invite a more direct physical connection, drawing in the space between our inner and outer realms of experience.
The artist’s unique relationship to image and paint lead him to enigmatic subject matter such as forests, galaxies, and the open road. The Cloud is Growing in the Trees underscores this mysterious, almost psychedelic relationship that invites the viewer in as an active participant.”
2013 – Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam PRSS RELEASE
“In Furthur Planetarium! William Monk shows a selection of large oil paintings together with woodcuts, watercolors and distempers made during the last two years. The word ‘furthur’, including its misspelling, comes from the name of the bus the author and 60’s trailblazer Ken Kesey took across America during the early 1960’s. In the paintings Furthur! and Furthur!! Monk’s cinematic road trip heads off under the massive form of a cloud; natural, man made or speech bubble. Though Monk’s paintings are figurative in source his principal interest lies in the physical presence of his paintings as object and the viewer’s experience within the space between them and the painting.
“Digital images are becoming the de-facto way we perceive and process the world – surface, and superficial virtuosity as self-defining, momentary meaning. This creates a problem: how to ensure that physical painting is experienced as a very different form of engagement, and their 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.”
Such is the case with Far-out I, II and III, an installation of paintings showing Earth’s environment, atmosphere and alignment to the stars, the curvature of the blue sky and black void enveloping the viewer in an immersive environment. Similarly, in Paravent and Paravent (La Honda) Monk creates not a description of a forest but painterly equivalents. Cropped just short of the forest floor and hung low on the gallery walls these paintings invite the viewer in as participant. The painting Furthur Planetarium! presents the viewer with an ambiguous perspective of Earth, the Universe and its repeating shapes, pattern and fractals that appear throughout our world and beyond. Monk’s childhood spent constructing airfix kits plays itself out here in the form of various insignia of World War one aircraft dotted across the surface of the painting like satellites or stars.
Biography appears again in a self-portrait the artist made after an MrI scan following short periods of perceptual psychedelic disturbance.
William Monk (1977, Kingston upon Thames) completed his residency at De ateliers in Amsterdam in 2006 and now lives and works in London. In 2005 he received the Dutch royal award for painting and he was the winner of the Jerwood Contemporary Painters award in 2009. Monk’s work has been exhibited in several group and solo exhibitions across Europe. His work is included in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den haag and in the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden and was most recently included in the tom Morton curated group show Recent British Painting.”