Process | Order | Chance brings together two very different abstract artists, separated in age by almost 60 years, but who share similar attitudes.The work of Natalie Dower and Tess Williams reveals that chance plays a huge part in a process of creation that is ordered, yet instinctively allowed to meander down side paths of pure chance to end up with solutions that are stunningly beautiful. Chance is often the key that creates art that is far more than just the sum of its constituent parts.
Natalie Dower [b.1931] has painted almost every day of her adult life and still continues to do so, developing themes and ideas, working and reworking visual concepts over and over. While her art is firmly rooted in systems, codes of proportion, mathematical geometry and colour theory, she allows elements of chance to creep into a painting, sometimes allowing chance to become the dominant force. It is a joy to have two paintings in the exhibition that clearly show how different solutions can emerge from the same starting point. Hung side by side, Seventeen: Flypast (optical advance) (2013) and Seventeen (2014) both originate from the same mathematical system. At first glance they appear similar until you begin to notice subtle shifts in the design, in texture, and – most notably – how the later painting is almost gouged out of the flat surface, exposing its physical history just as much as it shows the development of a visual concept.
In a similar way, Tess Williams’s paintings reveal their bruised history proudly upon their surfaces. As part of the process for creating a piece she allows a painting to reveal itself slowly – guiding it towards a strong visual solution that is held within a balance of textures, additions and subtractions. Her sharply defined lines sit comfortably alongside the fraying, slightly crumpled, edges of an adjacent patch of canvas. Each element is crucial in supporting the other, the weak with the strong, the fragile with the robust.
As Williams commented in a recent interview for Abstract Mag:
“I have an openness to the way I work. Not too structured, just enjoying the way that things can unfold. One work often leads onto another, carrying through elements that I think have been successful and leaving out ones that haven’t…. Working on a painting can often be like trying to complete a puzzle – moving pieces around over and over again, until something just clicks and you know it’s done…. If I worked in a very planned and systematic way I wouldn’t enjoy the making process so much, as there would be less room for chance and surprise. I try to keep a sense of play and freedom in the way that I work – it’s a continual flow of experimentation and learning, which is what keeps me so engaged in the process.”
Natalie Dower was trained at St Martins School of Art, Camberwell School of Art and Crafts, and Slade School of Fine Art. She has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad and her work is held in numerous collections including: Arts Council England; Arthur Anderson & Co; Government Art Collection; Mondriaanhuis, The Netherlands; and Warwick University. She lives and works in London and Portugal.
Tess Williams has a Masters Degree from Central St Martins. She has held solo shows in the UK, Germany and Spain, and held residencies in London, Munich and Berlin. Her work is held in various collections including: De Montfort University; Grosvenor House, London; The Corinthia, London; Belvercar Patrimonio, Spain; and in numerous private collections in the UK, USA, France, Germany and Spain. She lives and works in London.
©Copyright Natalie Dower 2018