Artwork of the Week – Nicholas Charles Williams

Liverpool artwork of the week. 2008 No 1. ‘Desideratum’ Triptych by Nicholas Charles Williams in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral until February 2 2008

For the start of 2008 we have switched from a daily artwork to a weekly one. At least temporarily, we may switch back to daily pictures depending on availability of artworks and time resources.

The first for the year is this splendid large work in the Cathedral, well worth a visit.
Here’s the press release…

The resurgence of figurative painting

Opening this week at Liverpool’s magnificent Anglican Cathedral, an exhibition of a monumental triptych by contemporary painter Nicholas Charles Williams affirms the resurgence of contemporary figurative painting. The exhibition forms part of Liverpool’s visual arts programme as host of the European Capital of Culture 2008 giving audiences the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of contemporary art following the city’s presentation of the 2007 Turner Prize.


During a period where British contemporary art is dominated by conceptualism Williams’ work is attracting increasing attention. This is outlined by Ian Dejardin, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery ‘He brings to his work a remarkable depth of thought and a powerful, individual imagination that means he escapes the trap that awaits so many ‘realist’ painters – that of looking like a pale shadow of what has gone before. Williams may paint like a modern-day Counter-Reformation artist, but his subject matter is worlds away and unique to him, visually and intellectually gripping. So, it never looks anything but contemporary – indeed, his themes and obsessions could only have emerged from the latter part of the twentieth century, the century of popular psychology and ‘alternative’ culture.’

Critics and social commentators have, in recent months, followed the re-emergence of contemporary figurative painting. Artists such as James Lloyd, Mark Shields, Jennifer McRae, Stuart Pearson Wright and Williams himself are leading the way in the use of figuration to explore contemporary issues. Their painting is also distinctive in that they choose to work directly from life and to distance themselves from the emulation and finish of photography. Williams, the oldest of a current crop of realist painters, has taken things further by tackling figuration on a significant scale. In 1999 he completed a 20’ x 10’ painting, now in Bournemouth Central library, featuring a procession in honour of the sea. His secular triptych at Liverpool Cathedral is on a similar scale featuring seven life-size figures.