The Comfort of Strangers
Midnight: a tale of woe and redemption. Alone I entered her world isolated, overfed with melancholy, inebriation, and novelty; feeling disembodied by the NFT’s I felt comforted and sensed the digression of nineteenth century time and a Matissean sense of compact space. I thought, this painter lives in the node of a writer’s mind. I left the obsidian diorama impressed by the isosceles geometry and contemporariness with all things post-.
And, with that literary boost-off lies the vast sum of troubadour poets’ and vagabond writers’ knowledge. Margaux Williamson’s (*1976) paintings are of words, and in the word lies the autonomy of her wordless paintings. The pull of last centuries’ simultaneity sends outwardly subtle vectors with the new geometries of the twenty-first century. Somehow she conveys the dark bodiless tunnel you peer through, and transforms it into a halo of light around her sublime detachment.
Her settings seem like montages of a personal space she intimately knows and lives in. Conversely, they’re observations of time itself, undulating and receding into itself. I took great pleasure in noting that a cool blue poolside exterior has geometry as strange, loose, and beguiling as the forms of Raoul De Keyser.
Everything I pondered about their realm bleeds into and out of each other. The planar relations support the whole construction. They float in the air. Interior spaces are composed of tandems of muted ochres, Delacroix browns, subdued plum reds, and seductive dark umbers. She knows what to coax out of her palette and paints idiosyncratic objects. I sense an acute individualism in her carnal mood swings.
Williamson’s romanticist vignettes offer the midnight flaneur an oasis from screenshots.
Her pictures are elastic as a long film exposure. An unmade bed makes me want to crawl under its fluffy blanket and lay my head upon its pillow, a nook for the book in my hand, Montaigne by the Lampside. Slow-motion burn chapters are what to read here. Being and becoming true and real as the azure sky in a Titian, or the unfinished passage of a novelist in mid-thought. The words pour forth, the pictures happen. A process of unexpected outcomes opens up.
The concave lens of their correspondences says she shapes its contours with the supple wand of her brushwork. They breathe. They feel real enough. More than real. They are buxom and well-rounded apertures, like a soundly parsed dose of text. What perceptual doors they open. A sense of suspended time is conveyed within curiosities snugly ensconced betwixt a macro-micro conflation. As above so below. And so it goes to show you that the parallax view of the lit-art symbiosis isn’t dead nor extinct. That there is a lot of that replenishing stream distilling the current excesses and moving things forward now. There are painter poets and poet painters at work who, as double eagles move things backwards and forwards in time as ouroboros of the cypher, the muse, and the siren.
As I roamed ever deeper into her calm Apollonian corridors I felt clear headed, intoxicated, even drugged by their warrens and dens. They are reducible changelings to those who can crack the progression where the mnemonic pattern occurs. You feel the detached corporeality means something to her way of deftly handling the slashing surfaces that are subtle as a Morandi still life. How I love the angles of her uncouth Cézzanean geometries each with seemingly effortless animate power. I feel secure and take refuge in knowing of their stream. I am bolstered by the sure-fire reality in her luci luci dream of horizontals and verticals wrought forth by the astrolabe of her muted palettes tool bag. They morph in densities both familiar and unaffected by social commotion and converse with the sane equipoise of an imaginative temperament. Her sole preoccupation is with her own impressions.
New things are emerging fast despite the tired clicky formulas circulating in your electric star guns. The authoress Williamson is most certainly a painter of the recurring moment; the painter is authoress with impressive handling and latitude. The beau idéal of her forms are twin poles of the written word and memory.
Two sides of the same coin make for two runes in one. One supports and compliments the other on opaline levels.
With this painting sorceress’s ability to transduce the synthetic flat screen I feel their pulse in the belly and yearn to be in physical solitude with them. That is a good sign amidst the forlorn tartarean landscape ahead. Their raison d'être is life itself, grains of sand in the annals of time. Just before I shut off my valve in the oscillation, things became clear as an auto-suggestive bell. There in the obsidian mirror I saw her reflection in my own refraction, so I said aloud: mirror, mirror, on the painter wall, who is the fairest one of all? Now you know.
White Cube, London
Online viewing room
19 March – 11 May 2021