Tess Williams: The Physicality of Painting and Referencing the Body

Tess Williams is an artist who creates work with a real passionate expression that you don’t find too often in young contemporary London based artists. I’ve followed her journey over the last few years and continue to love her real and raw approach to making.

I caught up with her briefly amongst her busy schedule to ask some quick-fire questions about her as a person, as well as give you more of an insight into her work below.

You’ll see by looking that she very much explores the physicality of painting and more so the potential of its structure and materiality. She works and engages with un-stretched canvas to begin with, usually cotton or linen to explore how folds, creases and layers act as marks and how they reference the body.

When viewing a collection of her work it’s clear that she’s working with both the male and female, explaining “I increasingly work with a consciousness of what can be identified as masculine and feminine aspects of materials, colour and form, exploring the relationship between these polarities.  The grimy, rough and brutal blacks and greys, thick heavy bodied materials perhaps contrast with the light delicate translucency of finer cottons, fleshy colours and more delicate hand strokes or washes of the pastels.”

Her interest in pushing the boundaries of painting is something that drives her and retains an attachment to the experience of viewing a painting on a wall, as a pose to the floor, where her paintings usually begin their lives. She enjoys the fact that this produces a body-to-body encounter and an experience for the view that goes beyond the constraints of a picture frame, amplifying the physical presence of painting.


Lives? Camden, London

Where did you study? Central Saint Martins, London

Hobbies? Travel, food, Arsenal F.C, music and culture in general!

Favourite Galleries? In London I like Parasol unit, Serpentine, Sadie Coles, White Cube and Hauser & Wirth.

Something no-one knows about you? I used to be captain of my school football team…

Favorite medium? Painting, followed by installation.

Last book read? ‘Writings on Art’ – by Mark Rothko

Top three priorities for 2017? Have a better work/life balance, read more and take more risks… 

Best thing about creating art? There is nothing else that I would rather be doing everyday, and when it’s going well it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. 

Worst thing about creating art? It can get lonely sometimes! And it can be hard to keep your self-belief in moments of doubt.

Follow Tess @tess_williams_studio