William Monk: Point Datum at Pace Gallery, Hong Kong

William Monk
Point Datum
Pace Gallery
12/F, H Queen’s
80 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong
Dec 2, 2020 – Jan 23, 2021
All images copyright and courtesy of the artist(s) and the gallery
Featured Image: William Monk © William Monk

William Monk’s latest series of paintings titled Point Datum plot a course across some vast and unknowable fictive landscape. What Monk eloquently describes as a “bounded arrangement,” are a set of parameters for connection; a series of fixed points made physical through applied paint. A series of determinants within a range of painterly options, from scale and tone to the meeting of colors that produce a line and a boundary. A “datum point,”—Monk’s inversion for the title suggests a geography—refers to origin and destination, or rather in order to define a course or path one needs two points. For the artist this recognizes not only the fictive space of the image but the space between images, between paintings and keenly between us the viewer and painting. As he explains “The imagined painterly space is both abstract and figurative, and the literal space is equally so. Both are physical and metaphysical.” As, with music, it’s the space between the notes that allow for form, Monk’s paintings in their locked-off fixed camera perspective speak to location while teasing at the mystery of what sits beyond the border, between us and it.

Monk’s paintings are assuredly unique, yet they build meaning through their seriality, through the seeming repetition of sign and image, canvas by canvas. The exhibition itself is also anchored or rather connected as Monk explains “the 20 paintings in Point Datum showing in Hong Kong is specifically linked to the Grimm Gallery show Mount Atom, in Amsterdam, they are brother and sister, another point of measurement between two forms, two locations and two continents.” Again, we observe the artist’s self-described addictive return to imagery, to shape, line, color-schema or simply his committal to the language and matter of paint, to what arrives from making. As Monk suggests “we look for meaning in things happened, not in things to be.’’ The beauty or revelation of Monk’s Point Datum is the journey we jointly take into a world where meaning is both anchored, metaphysical and illusory.