Tess Williams (b.1985, London).
Through materiality and form, Williams’ work explores what a painting is beyond its frontal surface. She tests how far she can push her works toward textiles, collage or installation, without them ceasing to exist primarily as ‘paintings’. Her practice aims to constantly challenge the boundaries of the traditional picture frame. By ignoring the conventional canvas/stretcher format she reconfigures the components of a ‘painting’ into new forms, whilst continually referencing its history as a medium. Tess uses mainly unstretched canvas, cottons and linens. All her surfaces are unprimed so that the liquid paint and porous substrate unite, leaving the grains of the fabrics visible to produce a rugged and immersive material presence. She responds to the sensual immediacy of these painterly transformative elements, and their effect on our experience of materiality with its capacity to suggest beyond itself. Exploring how folds, creases, layers and movement within the materials can not only act as a form of mark making but can also reference the body. Williams’ explores what can be identified as the masculine and feminine aspects of materials and colour, playing with the relationships between these polarities. The grimy, rough and brutal blacks and greys, thick heavy bodied materials contrast with the light delicate translucency of finer cottons, fleshy colours and soft pastel washes. Sewing introduces a commonly thought of female domain whereas metal staples and nails introduce the male. Whilst engaging with these material and physical concerns, the continued exploration of painting itself as a medium remains central to her practice.
Tess graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with a Masters in Fine Art. Her work has since been exhibited at London galleries including Charlie Smith London, Griffin Gallery, The Dot Project, and in Frankfurt at Galerie Heike Strelow. She lives and works in London.