Whitehot Magazine

Interview with Nathan Dilworth: Future Fair

Nathan Dilworth, Untitled, 2019. Oil on linen, 30 x 25 in. All images courtesy of the artist and LAUNCH F18. 

Nathan Dilworth

LAUNCH F18 Future Fair

May 6 - June 6, 2020

By SAM TRIOLI, May 2020 

SAM TRIOLI: Of the works currently on view in the online edition of Future Fair with LAUNCH F18, which piece in particular captures an essential moment in your work? 

NATHAN DILWORTH: The painting Untitled, from 2019, was one of the first in this group.  I painted the entire painting, then wiped the bottom half of the canvas clean.  So the only colors and gestures left in the bottom half are in places where pigments have stained the linen.  This relationship between absence and presence, and the sometimes interchangeability of those two qualities, is central to my work. 

What interests you most about painting? 

There is a duality built into painting - what I’ve heard the painter Stephen Westfall refer to as the image/object.  On one hand paintings are objects existing in the world, having a relationship to the hand, the body, material process, and having presence in relation to other objects. But on the other hand a painting presents itself as the traditional window into another world- by that I mean either an illusionistic representation, or a conceptual framework, the idea of the painting.  This second aspect is always trying to find a reference outside the painting.  The space between these two qualities, the image and the object, is something that I find very appealing. 

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

Having primarily worked in sculpture previously, where do you feel your work now intersects with both sculpture and painting?

Continuing from what I said about the idea of the image/object: I think my work has always tried to find a space between those two things, but previously I was just erring more on the side of the object. For instance much of my previous work consisted of photographs blown up to architectural scale, which then had areas of the image cut away after being installed. They had a very physical presence, but were also literally pictures of another time and place.  

So these new works are paintings in every way, but they are revolving around the same ideas, just a little more about the image, and a little more about color.  The physical characteristics are slightly lower profile - layers of paint instead of heavyweight vinyl or fabric – but I think some of the tactics of disrupting a space have carried over.  

Throughout a number of your new paintings there is a fascinating element of how you allow for things to connect and touch, a block of color next to a gesture, a dividing line crossing half of the canvas, do you consciously bring these elements together?  Or is it based more on a feeling?

I guess more of a feeling.  I spend a lot of time waiting for things to come together in a particular way.  It happens differently from painting to painting. Maybe one way of putting it would be to say that I’m looking for a certain amount of indecipherability.  I like to have two parts of the painting interfering with one another. 

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

Do you feel there is a reference to the landscape or light at all with your work? 

For sure.  Light plays a big role.  One of the things I love about photography is the atmospheric light captured in each photo.  I will frequently try to translate the colors from a photo into a painting, or try to juxtapose light from two different places into one picture. 

Joan Mitchell once said that “Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work.” Do you relate to that approach at all? 

Yes and no. I’m not interested in developing a style, at least not in the normal sense of the word. But I also don’t really strive for a coherent surface.  And there is a purity of approach implied in that statement that I don’t really relate to.  

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

What do you feel you’ve captured in these new works that are included in Future Fair? 

I try to let as much into my work as possible, so hopefully they reflect something about me and something about this moment in the world…  But it’s probably best expressed in the language of painting.  

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. Previous exhibitions include "Something and Something Else," Museum Van Bommel Van Dam, Venlo, The Netherlands (2008); "Room Tones," St. Cecilia Convent, Brooklyn, NY (2009); "Don't Wake Up," North Henry Annex, Brooklyn, NY (2011); "Wild Things," LAUNCH F18, New York, NY (2011), "Nathan Dilworth & Frankie Rice," Art Current, Provincetown, MA (2012), "Peripheral Prose," Long House Projects, New York, NY (2013). Previous solo exhibitions include "Look For Small Recorders," LAUNCH F18, New York (2011); "Nathan Dilworth," Picture Menu, Brooklyn (2012); “Mushrooms Demystified,” LAUNCH F18, New York (2013) and “Nathan Dilworth,” LAUNCH F18, New York (2015).  Nathan lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. WM 

Sam Trioli


 Sam Trioli is an artist and writer living and working in New York City.

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