William Monk at Pace Gallery

Moving fluidly between ideas of reality and mirage, and figuration and abstraction, Monk’s reinvention of painting lies in the physical presence of his works as object and the viewer’s experience within the space between them. His first-ever exhibition at Pace Gallery in London will open at the beginning of March.

“The idea of painting as mantra interests me: paintings as objects, figurations as images and models used as vibrations to reach somewhere else, beyond ourselves.

I don’t have a fixed method for how I make a painting other than to say it takes time to develop imagery when they are not direct transcripts of the real world but have been created slowly in my mind instead. My ideas take time to filter through my brain and onto the canvas where they collect more ideas and memories along the way. If I return to an image it’s because that process of filtration hasn’t yet ended. Also, the more I work the more I am aware of the difference between the model and the subject and the more those two separate. I think if I were another kind of artist, I’d say these paintings are about climate change, landscape, music, a moment from a film. It’s not that I’m not interested in my models and what influences me, but I’m looking for something else under the surface.” William Monk said about his inspiration and new body of work.

Comprising new large and small oil paintings, the exhibition at Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens is presented as an installation. Central to this, is a suite of paintings titled Sea of Cloud, a Yellow Submarine-imbued zoetrope-like room that features three paintings depicting a montage of what could be interpreted as a cloud forming and dissipating over a swelling sea. Rather than a triptych with a central panel, Monk intends this group of paintings to be read as a repeating montage that could be viewed on loop: a cinematic influence, but also a musical one.

Each painting in the group is comprised of two adjoining panels, with the seam carefully placed at eye level so that the viewer will, as the artist says, ‘feel they’re in the water looking up to the sky, across to the horizon and below to the depths.’


Image: William Monk, A Fool Through the Cloud, 2018-19, oil on canvas, 240 cm x 240 cm x 5 cm – (94-1/2″ × 94-1/2″ × 1-15/16″) © William Monk, Courtesy Pace Gallery.