EXHIBITION: Antony Williams

Starts: 3rd July 2019
Ends: 2nd August 2019

Messums London
28 Cork Street


As one of the leading contemporary figurative artists working today Antony Williams is dealing uniquely with matters of reflection and thoughtfulness in a context embedded in tradition and provenance. This series of beautifully conceived works perfectly examples Williams’s recent development towards, not only the human psyche, but how this relates to the natural landscape.

Williams’ pallet, typical of the hue of tempera, is subdued yet made luminous and incandescent through his use of minute brush strokes, a semi-pointillist technique, that dance together on the canvas creating an unparalleled depth of colour. Author and curator, David Boyd Haycock describes Williams’ style regarding ‘Umbrian Swimming Pool’ as ‘like a collision between David Hockney and the early Italian Renaissance master, Piero della Francesca.’ From Hockney comes the quality of colour and curious sense of unease and from Piero della Francesca comes the precision and hue of egg tempera along with the ‘very real aura of a hot Italian landscape.’

In the late 1980s through to the early mid 90s Antony was working like David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach, making large gestural views of London in thick charcoal and oil paint. Something of those powerful gestures still lingers in his work, though now each is writ incredibly small in an infinity of tiny strokes. It is this same process of almost endless mark making that lends the instantly eye-catching power to his portraits. We seem to see the actual flesh beneath the skin, and the veins within the flesh, and even the water in a sitter’s rheumy eyes. And here again we encounter the collision of old with new, as Lucian Freud seems to meet the early Flemish portraiture of Jan van Eyck–both painters that Williams greatly admires.