Dealing With The Multiple Realities In Nathan Dilworth’s Abstract Imagery

Nathan Dilworth’s new non-figurative paintings remarkably juxtapose manifold colours and arrangements in a variety of formations. Observing the artist’s abstract imagery, the use of colours is not organized in a moderately calming or simple way on his canvases. The artist’s compositions concentrate on abstract expressionistic attributes and large mixtures of colours and fields. In his new works, there are resonant expressions of hues, nebulous rectangles, big painterly weaving brushstrokes or even more monochromatic and unambiguous visualisations. It seems that no single colour has a predominant presence. A plethora of colours, instead, shapes his compositions. Nevertheless, the painting vocabulary showcases an evident coherence in style, technique and atmosphere. At another level, his vague structures also bring up contradictory elements that disrupt the spectator’s eyes while observing the surfaces. On one hand, gentle flares of wavering brushes render an ethereal touch, while on the other, a set of dynamic, vibrant additions characterise the final result.

Nathan Dilworth, Deluge, 2019, Oil on linen, 72 x 66 in

Words: Yannis Kostarias

Thicker scribbling brushstrokes densely prevail throughout half of the dichotomized surface in Deluge, 2019, with overlapping shades of black, dark blue or brown. These darker tones contrasted against the lighter parts of the second half, not only offer a shadowy and mystifying effect, but also imply a completely different perspective. The contradictory colour palette, different visual pattern with smooth corrugated lines and more painterly vivid hints/undertones are strikingly managed. In these most recent series of works, one-dimensional narratives or one-piece depictions are lacking. Instead more than one visual reality co-exists. They do not overlap each other creating a messy or unorthodox outcome, but rather demonstrate their autonomy, adding imperceptibly distinct boundaries.

Brokedown Palace, 2019 differs in style since it presents an alternative structure based on abstraction. This configuration seems to include three different visuals in one canvas. Red dominates the work and somehow manages to frame the rest of the two compositions. The second biggest squared part employs dark purple-based hues with an intense and swirling abstract pattern. Within this smooth illusionary square, another similar design, with more pastel and cloudy tones on it, forms the epicenter of this painting. The latter work puts an emphasis on a more comprehensive and symmetric layout and develops a creative interplay among these shapes. Each one of these three can build up a new expansive system, which favours multiple interpretations. In Dilworth’s imagery, there is a tendency in fluidity, depth and creativity that enables the viewer’s perception to feel more engaged with abstract motifs and structures throughout a colourful struggle.

Nathan Dilworth was born in 1983 in Dallas, Texas. He graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 and studied at the De Ateliers Studio Program in Amsterdam from 2005-2007. He’s currently showcasing his new paintings with LAUNCH F18 in the inaugural edition of Future Fair and their online presentation exclusively featured on Artsy. Future Fair Online is on display through Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Nathan Dilworth, Brokedown Palace, 2019, Oil on linen, 72 x 66 in

Could you tell us about the process of making your work?

It varies. Some paintings are planned in advance, and others are more improvised. I use mostly traditional methods – oil paint applied with a brush, or pigment sticks. Novel techniques and processes aren’t really something I strive for. I’m more interested in the way that ideas come together and take shape over time. The paintings that are more improvisational tend to be executed in several quick bursts spread out over months. The paintings that are planned are usually executed in one stretch but are frequently the culmination of an idea that took years to come to fruition. For instance, Brokedown Palace is based on a collage that I made almost 10 years ago but could never really find a way of translating. Finally my paintings developed in such a way that it made sense.

Could you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

So many! More than there is room for here. But to name a just a few: recently Hokusai’s woodblock prints, Michael Rey’s shaped paintings, and Manfred Pernice’s sculptures have all been bouncing around in my head.

You and your art gallery LAUNCH F18 are currently having an online solo exhibition featured on Artsy. Could you share your thoughts about this new virtual experience where the exhibition’s physical location does not exist?

Well, I’m a fan of objects. I think the interaction with an object is more complex than with a jpeg image. So it’s a little disappointing… But that being said, I think that artworks lived mostly as images, and mostly online, even before the coronavirus pandemic. So this just emphasizes something that has been happening for a long time. Images of artworks have a life of their own and can be interesting and useful in their own way. I hope we can have gallery exhibitions again in the future, but in the meantime online art is better than no art at all.

Nathan Dilworth, Untitled, 2019, Oil on linen, 30 x 25 in

Are there any new painting ideas, themes or even techniques that you present on your new body of work at the Future Fair?

The overarching themes of my work have stayed the same across mediums, but in a way the whole notion of painting, or at least only painting, is new for me. My previous exhibitions have consisted largely of sculpture and photography. If painting was included at all it was only one part of a larger installation. Allowing it to come to the forefront is a new thing for me.

Has self-isolation because of Convid-19 affected your creative activities or behaviour so far? If so, in which ways?

I have a wife and a newborn baby, so I haven’t felt very isolated. But, as with many people, the whole Covid-19 situation has made me think about how things might change in the future, and how I might try to adapt to that. What ways of working, or channels of creativity, are more efficient and more appropriate for what will almost certainly be leaner times ahead. That impetus to adapt forces us to be open to new things, which is positive in the long run.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your creative process?

All that talk about new ways of working aside, I LOVE my studio. I’ve been there for years. I’m very impacted by the space that I work in. So much so that I frequently find it shocking to move new work into a gallery space. The columns and cement ceiling in my studio were painted white a long time ago, and now the paint is flaking and the cement is chipped. In contrast to the white walls I’ve built it takes on a decrepit beauty, like an old palazzo. (… or at least it looks that way to me).

Nathan Dilworth, Untitled, 2019, Oil on linen, 72 x 60 in

Which exhibition did you visit last before general lockdown?

Rebecca Morris at Bortolami.

What do you hope audiences will take from your work?

I have no clue. I think of painting as a vessel. You can control some things – the shape, the appearance – but you can’t control what people put into it.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Both. Ideas come more easily at night. Editing comes more easily in the morning.

Which are your plans for the near future?

Stay healthy, work, spend some time outside, try not to freak out.

Nathan Dilworth, Equator, 2019, Oil on linen, 30 x 25 in

© All images are courtesy of the artist & LAUNCH F18

Future Fair Online

LAUNCH F18- Nathan Dilworth 


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