Bedwyr Williams: Older Artist

22 Apr-27 May 2023
PV 21 Apr 2023, 6-8pm


Older Artist is an exhibition of new work by Bedwyr Williams. Taking forms and narratives developed over the past several years, including new sculptural lightboxes and paintings, Williams sketches interior and exterior lives, internal dialogues and interpersonal exchanges with a precision both caustic and poignant.

Older Artist anchors its attention on long-standing art world inhabitants, drawn or painted as they occupy the bright white rooms in which they have worked, talked, socialised and received acclaim; where they have held power and influence. Williams hones in on particularities of self-presentation, both lived and captured through social media platforms: the pale flesh of a bare ankle between shoe and trouser hem; the specific silhouette of a carefully chosen outfit; the glinting nose ring and pointed stare of an artist who, you sense, doesn't like you.  

Williams' lightboxes materialise his popular Instagram drawings, pinpointing the social norms, uniforms and character tropes of the creative industry and beyond, into a broader socio-political sphere. Special attention is paid to those who move to the Welsh countryside in search of an idyllic escape, whilst remaining obstinately ignorant of the local language. 'This machine kills minority languages', reads one of the works, picturing the worn-in boat shoes of a new settler. Drawing on a new, multi-panel narrative format, one work consists of three individual boxes, arranged in a row to be viewed as if scrolling through an image carousel. In the downstairs screening room is a slideshow of Instagram works from the past six months, revolving at a leisurely pace, soundtracked by ambient garden noise of distant motors, birdsong and planes passing overhead.

Williams’ paintings are here arrayed across a single wall like family portraits in a stately home. The subjects of these works veer between vividly familiar and strangely unplaceable, from nebulous, translucent faces with sharp, lucid eyes, to sock-less feet in black Oxford shoes or Birkenstock Boston clogs, and even the winding form of a Renaissance serpent horn (a snake-like ancestor of the modern-day tuba). Some paintings approach moments of body horror, whether in the reptilian twist of a back-turned neck or the rash of blister-like growths which gather at the centre of a loosely sketched face. The faint tracery of lines and veins become visible beneath the gauzy skin of Williams' subjects, signs of ageing and vulnerability markedly apparent under glaring gallery lights.

Older Artist is accompanied by Instagram Tales, a new limited-edition publication produced by PageMasters.