Simon English and Helena Goldwater make drawings and paintings, that seduce viewers with their performative gestures. Goldwater makes delicate and intricate watercolours of plant forms. Her attention to details suggests studies of nature and plant life, but on a closer reading of the works, their structures reveal unsettling hybridised forms. We are drawn into her paintings. English’s drawings of whirlwind imagery charms us with their obsessive nature and playfulness. Both artists give us an intimate view of their world and as we inspect the works our view shifts between the voyeuristic to the reversed gaze as we become the observed.
Goldwater questions the representation of truth and the natural order. Her plant like paintings reminds us of James Audubon’s illustrations but the hybrid organisms deviate from the heteronormative, suggesting a new reading of the natural order. Created from her imagination their fleshy, bodily forms refer to gender and sexual desires. They become views of the inside, of the hidden; they are erotic, and perverted, and beautiful in the same gaze. As they oscillate between the familiar and the undefined a sinister quality emerges with a sense of humour found in their titles such as Gut Reaction and Beast.
English’s drawings and sculptures are an amalgamation of the fictional, the historical, the erotic, poetic and the personal, and as in Goldwater’s work, there is an intimacy. English makes his experience ours, but it doesn’t become confessional, they are collages and commentaries of the world around us. In his drawings he creates his own language of mark making, where a line becomes both an abstraction and a bodily form. Shapes become tangible but quickly shifting into an imaginary vision. In his sculptures, the tiniest detail such as a colour stain, or the texture of a material becomes a performative sculptural play. They suggest a subconscious process, but their intense presence evokes anticipation for what might be happening next.
As the title suggests, both English and Goldwater make works that are beautiful and yet are raw and repulsive. Their works are the essence of seductiveness.
Roberto Ekholm, 2018
Simon English and Helena Goldwater are included in the external MOCA exhibition Nature Morte at Guildhall Art Gallery, London until 2 April 2018.