This pandemic, and in particular these lockdowns, while it has limited our physical movements, we can still find the space to not limit the self. We manage to adjust, albeit on a very reduced scale. With these reduced paintings, though I have imposed on them a very bounded arrangement, I have tried to let them be uniquely themselves.
– William Monk, November 2020
William Monk's latest series of paintings titled Point Datum plot a course across some vast and unknowable fictive landscape. What Monk eloquently describes as a 'bounded arrangement,' are a set of parameters for connection; a series of fixed points made physical through applied paint. A series of determinants within a range of painterly options, from scale and tone to the meeting of colours that produce a line and a boundary. A 'datum point,'—Monk's inversion for the title suggests a geography—refers to origin and destination, or rather in order to define a course or path one needs two points. For the artist this recognizes not only the fictive space of the image but the space between images, between paintings and keenly between us the viewer and painting. As he explains 'The imagined painterly space is both abstract and figurative, and the literal space is equally so. Both are physical and metaphysical.' As, with music, it's the space between the notes that allow for form, Monk's paintings in their locked-off fixed camera perspective speak to location while teasing at the mystery of what sits beyond the border, between us and it.
Monk's paintings are assuredly unique, yet they build meaning through their seriality, through the seeming repetition of sign and image, canvas by canvas. The exhibition itself is also anchored or rather connected as Monk explains 'the 20 paintings in Point Datum showing in Hong Kong is specifically linked to the Grimm Gallery show Mount Atom, in Amsterdam, they are brother and sister, another point of measurement between two forms, two locations and two continents.' Again, we observe the artist's self-described addictive return to imagery, to shape, line, colour-schema or simply his committal to the language and matter of paint, to what arrives from making. As Monk suggests 'we look for meaning in things happened, not in things to be.' The beauty or revelation of Monk's Point Datum is the journey we jointly take into a world where meaning is both anchored, metaphysical and illusory.
William Monk (b.1977, Kingston upon Thames, UK) is based in London, England. He was awarded the Koninklijke Prijs voor Vrije Schilderkunst (Royal Award for Painting) in 2005 and the Jerwood Contemporary Painters award in 2009. Monk's work has been exhibited at Fries Museum, Leeuwarden (NL); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL); Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (NL); GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); James Cohan Gallery, New York (US); Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles (US); Norwich University, Norwich (UK); PSL, Leeds and Summerfield Gallery, Cheltenham, London (UK). His work can also be found in the collections of the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (NL); AKZO Nobel, Amsterdam (NL); David Roberts Art Foundation, London (UK); Fries Museum, Leeuwarden (NL); ING, Amsterdam (NL), and in many private collections.
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.