IT IS commonly known that every time you revisit a memory you alter it in some way, embarking on a slightly different narrative each time you return to it. Since completing her Masters in Fine Art from the in 2018, London based artist Antonia Showering has continued to explore “how memory works through stacking lots of recollections on top of one another.”
The longer you look at Showering’s art, the more people and objects begin to emerge and submerge, drifting you in and out of subconscious and consciousness, fantasy and reality.
It’s interesting to note that Showering prefers to work late into the evening, when we are at the behest of dreams and at our most whimsical and reflective. Mixed Emotion is Showering’s first solo exhibition at the Timothy Taylor gallery where she displays her dedication to the pentimento technique of layered images and strokes that have been modified or painted over. Here Showering gives us a heady sense of nostalgia, as though you’ve reached the end of a long summer and are reminiscing over balmy bike rides, languid picnics, wild swimming and food shared with family and friends.
Think Gaugin style figures sprawled across the canvas in Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe poses. However Showering’s figures are less prescriptive, instead you place yourself directly into Showering’s depictions of specific moments, whether that be sat at the kitchen table, walking with a lover or holding a child, she deftly offers us an “emotion made tangible.”
The obscurity of Showering’s faces nods to her “half remembered, half invented figures which are drawn from those that I love or have loved.”
Her figures appear almost ethereal in their form, awash in sunflower yellow next to mossy green, arsenic blues and burnt reds that press into the canvas like a lip stain on a cheek, at times bleeding onto the edges of the canvas with effervescent energy.
That’s not to say her work is haphazard, in fact Showering’s artistic process is incredibly laboured. After stretching and making her own linen canvases, she then brushes it with distemper before dotting oil paint onto the canvas, allowing it to move, bloom and slide, “both to get beyond the terror of beginning a painting and to find a shape within the composition that draws me into the structure.”
The people come later, “I pick figuration into these quite automatic marks and slowly spaces arise.” Over time these spaces transcend from her psyche, “I always think it’s done unconsciously but actually it tends to lead back to the same domestic spaces or landscapes. The landscape on the canvas is drawn from where my Swiss grandmother is from and they kind of act as this constant in my life.”
Mixed Emotion is enormously enriching, delving into flickers of the past that inform a future. At once familiar and otherworldly, Showering’s practice celebrates the unknown, a state that we ourselves have had to uncomfortably contend with over the past two years.
As John F Kennedy once said, “There’s nothing more certain and unchanging than uncertainty and change.” Showering’s work produces just that, in all of it’s ambiguous glory.
by Charlie Newman
is showing at the Timothy Taylor Gallery until March 5, 2022
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