Timothy Taylor presents a new exhibition of paintings by Antonia Showering (b. 1991, London, UK). This is the gallery’s first solo exhibition with the artist.
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In Showering’s work, vivid and velvety colour is drawn like a veil over atmospheric evocations of the workings of memory and emotional experience. The compositions are filled with figures Showering calls ‘the people I love or have loved.’ Narrative flickers obliquely at the edges of her paintings, the ghosts of storylines taking shape in the form of ambiguous familial relationships or romantic encounters dotted with surreal souvenirs, creating a persistent sense of déjà-vu, the way we experience the past and present all at once.
Each painting begins in the same way: After brushing her canvas with distemper, Showering spills blots of oil paint across stretched linen canvases, letting the paint pool across the fabric and rotating the canvas, ‘both to get beyond the terror of beginning a painting and to find a shape within the composition that draws me into a structure,’ she explains. As the paint dries, abstract forms appear that reveal suggestions of the human figure or objects of significance, a Rorschach-blot process guided by intuitions verging on the otherworldly.
The first layers are physical: dense, inky brushstrokes strewn across the canvas. Showering paints translucent washes over these first layers, rubbing away areas of definition to create gradations of colour that vibrate off each other: verdant green and amber, alizarin crimson and golden ochre, rich aubergine, carnal pink. Layers of pentimento underneath reveal traces of other scenes, reflecting the intimate allusions of consciousness, of reliving, exaggerating and altering the memories and desires that remain fresh and alive in our minds.
Cryptic symbols linger in Showering’s work, surreal inversions of perception refracted through dreams and memory that link Showering to a distinctly British tradition of the domestic uncanny. Fried eggs gleam against a dark table; doll-sized cars speed across a lifelike depiction of a couple in a heated embrace. Shimmering bodies of water and the rolling crest of three specific mountains in the distance anchor almost every landscape, echoing Cezanne’s decades-long fascination with the hills overlooking Aix-en-Provence. Figures wading through water suggests moments of reflection and revelation, echoing the way hydromancers once sought answers to riddles and prophecies through the ripples on water. Submerged in its liquid depths, her figures melt into each other before fading into soft waves of abstract paint.
The slippage between selves of the past and present in Showering’s paintings also takes shape in the artist’s focus on family relationships and how their dynamics repeat over generations. In Sacrifice, an older woman behind a young girl stirs a bubbling pot sparking on the stove, her expression watchful yet unreadable. In The Awakening a woman leans across a man’s lap even as other faces – mementos of former relationships – cast shadows around his head. ‘Paint allows me to record the cycles of time,’ Showering says. ‘I want to recreate intimate, universal moments drawn from my own experiences, desires and worries, but painted with enough ambiguity for the viewer to recognise something from their own realities in the work.’
Antonia Showering (b. 1991) was born in London, England, where she currently lives and works. Showering holds a BA with honours from City and Guilds of London Art School (2016) and an MFA in Fine Art from Slade School of Fine Art (2018). In 2020, she was the subject of a solo show at White Cube, London. Showering has been included in international group exhibitions at venues including Timothy Taylor, London (2021), Union Gallery, London (2021), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2021), Choi and Lager, Cologne (2020), Stephen Friedman Gallery, London (2019), TJ Boulting Gallery, London (2018), South London Gallery, London (2018), Baert Gallery, Los Angeles (2018). Showering was the recipient of the New Contemporaries x SPACE Studio Bursary Award in 2018, The Great Women Artists Residency at Palazzo Monti in 2018 and the 2018 Henry Tonks Award.
Courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London / New York