William Cotterill (b.1984) is a contemporary British artist living and working in Oxford and London, United Kingdom. He has been featured in a number of shows including ‘Hello, Goodbye’, Central Saint Martins, ‘Halcyon’, Art Jericho and ‘Conspiracies’, Lewisham Arthouse. His first solo show ‘Tangle of Matter and Ghost’ was curated by Jenny Blyth (Saatchi Gallery 1990-2002), his second solo show ‘Maps For Loners’ was at 2SR Art Space Oxford. His work is in internation private collections as well as the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection. Next year he will present a solo exhibition at Cornerstone in Didcot, Oxfordshire.
Distorted reflections, images in peripheral vision, fragments of patterns and motifs – I am drawn to experiences and visuals where what is in front of me does not completely solidify and make sense in my mind, where I am left in a space which does not settle.
I find being in this gap of constant questioning and ambiguity an exciting experience, and one that I wish to transmit through my work. I hunt for forms and places that give a sense of the uncanny, recording through photography and drawing. This ever-growing library often serves as a starting point for my paintings and sculptures. Images and experiences are combined and filtered through my memory. They become triggers for the creation of a lexicon of personal marks and symbols on the canvas.
The paintings evolve through a slow process of layering and re-working. Often the surfaces appear cracked and scarred. I mix marble dust and chalk into the paint to create a myriad of different consistencies, allowing me to work in a highly sculptural way: weaving, carving and excavating. The sense that nothing is solid, and that anything might change, are ideas that influence this working method. That which might appear complete from a distance, reveals itself to be in continual flux upon closer inspection.
The paintings mostly look semi-organic or overgrown, as if succumbed to entropy. I want the feeling these works could disintegrate and slip into chaos at any moment. They are not didactic or definite in any sense. My investigations into the shifting narrative of historical artefacts, architecture and painting are a constant reminder of the fragile nature of ideas and beliefs, which I aim to express through the work.
Artist Statement For Maps For Loners exhibition
My practice is rooted in object making and exists between painting and sculpture. It explores the anxiety and excitement of being overwhelmed by information, the idea of breakdowns and disrupted narratives, and how matter can express the over-complicated and transitory. Inspired by movements of the 1940s and 50s, including Arte Informale and Arte Povera’s materials and processes, my works seeks to question how much we can and should try to attain certainty in an age of extreme dislocation.
I see the work as a physical manifestation of these struggles: the twisting together and metabolising of different stimuli from art history, popular culture and everyday life. Oil paint and left-over junk from society form a language of stuttering processes. Through layering and concealing, objects are worked on simultaneously, feeding each other in a holistic approach to making, that has no hierarchy of materials. I use paint both for its ability to form illusions, and as another sculptural medium that can be dug into, carved, woven and excavated.
The fragmented, dislocated forms that emerge could give rise to accidental new narratives. However, their inherent brokenness and ambiguity defies any solid conclusions. I am interested in the feeling of this confusion and uncertainty as a specific, textural place to exist in and to explore.
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