Antonia Showering - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, June 30, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'My paintings try and explore how memory works through stacking lots of recollections on top of one another.'
    —Antonia Showering

    Executed in dreamy washes of ochre, plum, and teal tones that seem at once tied to the cyclical patterns of the seasons, and to build a world that exists strangely outside of time, We Stray is a work of intense narrative power by young British artist Antonia Showering first presented as part of her online exhibition Introductions with White Cube in 2020. Depicting an idyllic mountain landscape with figures bathing and floating weightlessly across the still waters of a lake, We Stray brings together key elements of Showering’s practice, bridging the personal and the universal in its treatment of memory, time, and the deep emotional connections that we forge with both people and places. Recalling Paul Gauguin’s evocative blend of fantasy and reality, Showering’ paintings ‘swell with human emotion, and the criss-crossed paths of chance meetings and missed connections, as stories within stories unfold.’i


    Paul Gauguin, Day of the God (Mahana no Atua), 1894, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. Image: Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.198
    Paul Gauguin, Day of the God (Mahana no Atua), 1894, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. Image: Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.198

    On Painting and Repenting


    Built up in velvety layers of oil paint, Showering’s paintings play with the parallels between her practice and the workings of memory itself, the ways in which neither are one thing alone but are instead composites, added to and overlaid over time. As Showering explains, the mountain landscape that reappears across her works is itself an amalgamation: anchored in her childhood memories of her Swiss grandmother’s home, but not specific to any one geographic site, it allows her to merge meaningful locations in the creation of these shifting emotional landscapes. Similarly, drawn from her family and those she has loved, her figures do not reflect a physical likeness, but record the impressions of deeply felt feelings and desires. Disarmingly intimate and pervaded by a poignant nostalgia, in this manner Showering balances emotional depth with an interpretative openness, endowing her figures with an ambiguity that ‘reminds me of when several people recall an event and how much they all differ from each other.’ii

    'I see the canvas as a physical space where feelings of belonging or displacement, love or loneliness, intergenerational memory, superstitions and regrets can be turned into something visual and shared with the viewer.' —Antonia ShoweringCreating complex narrative structures for her paintings to operate within, Showering’s distinctive approach to her materials and application of paint reproduces the more mutable aspects of memory in compelling ways. After sealing her stretched linen canvases with rabbit glue prepared the night before, Showering approaches the surface intuitively, drawing out forms in her broad and fluid application of oil paint, allowing these compositional elements to suggest themselves in a way that mirrors shifting patterns of thought. Figures and forms emerge and recede within these landscapes, making powerful use of the pentimento process whereby paint is applied and removed in a highly fluid mode of overworking and undoing that takes its name from the Italian ‘pentirsi’ (to repent).


    Detail of the present work
    Detail of the present work

    As the artist describes: ‘My process is quite transient, in that imagery is constantly shifting, a couple embracing could become a mountain range, figures interlocking could later become the ripples in a lake.’ iii This liquidity is immediately apparent in We Stray, evident in Showering’s treatment of oil paint and the ephemerality of her figures appearing to melt into the landscape they are set within.


    Stylistically recalling the dreamlike landscapes of contemporary artists Hurvin Anderson and Peter Doig, Showering’s fluid sense of line and chromatic intensity also daws close comparison with Paul Gauguin’s expressive tonalities and the spaces opened in his canvases between fantasy and reality. In their belief that art should operate not as a faithful depiction of nature or the Impressionistic rendering of its effects, but as synthesis of universal metaphor and personal symbology created by the artist, Showering’s paintings resonate most profoundly with the late 19th century Les Nabis group. Combining Paul Sérusier’s emotive use of simplified forms and direct, unmodulated colour with Paul Ranson’s reimagining of the classical motif of bathers, We Stray maintains the same tension exploited by Les Nabis artists between the depiction of a scene and our awareness of it as artifice.


    Making visual connections between the qualities of water and the shifting patterns of thought, this recurring motif also restores a sense of lost innocence or vulnerability to her figures, the artist explaining that it ‘feels as if lakes, ponds, and rivers are spaces where we are allowed to become infants again, even if just for a moment.’iv  Operating in the space between the concrete and the ephemeral, remembering and forgetting, Showering’s paintings speak to the emotional power of memory and its persistence.


    [LEFT] Paul Sérusier, The Talisman,1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Image: Heritage Images / Fine Art Images / akg-images CAPTION: [RIGHT] Paul Ranson, Nu se coiffant au bord de l'étang, 1897, private collection. Image: akg-images
    [LEFT] Paul Ranson, Nu se coiffant au bord de l'étang, 1897, Private Collection. Image: akg-images
    [RIGHT] Paul Sérusier, The Talisman, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Image: Heritage Images / Fine Art Images / akg-images


    Collector’s Digest


    • Since completing her MFA at the Slade School of Fine Arts in 2018, Antonia Showering has been steadily gaining critical attention, participating in multiple group exhibitions and selected for a range of awards and residencies including Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2019 ,‘The Great Women Artists Residency’ at Palazzo Monti, Brescia in 2018, and the 2018 Henry Tonks Award.


    • After announcing her representation by Timothy Taylor Gallery last year, Antonia Showering presented her first solo exhibition Anthony Showering: Mixed Emotion with the gallery in early 2022.


    Inside The Artist’s Studio with Antonia Showering | Art on a Postcard 


    i Louise Benson, ‘Antonia Showering: “I Think My Dog Was an Artist in a Previous Life”’, Elephant, 31 January 2022, online. 
    ii Antonia Showering, quoted in Maria-Theresia Mathisen ‘Artists to Watch in 2021’ Lux Magazine, online.
    iii Antonia Showering, quoted in ‘Antonia Showering on Her Practice and How She’s Finding the Current Creative Climate’, The Cass Art Blog, 2021, online.
    v Antonia Showering, quoted in Maria-Theresia Mathisen ‘Artists to Watch in 2021’ Lux Magazine, online.

    • Provenance

      White Cube, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, White Cube, Introductions | Antonia Showering, 18 August - 3 September 2020 (online exhibition)


We Stray

signed and dated 'Antonia Showering. A Showering. 2020' on the overlap
oil on linen
160 x 130 cm (62 7/8 x 51 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

£40,000 - 60,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £239,400

Contact Specialist

Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
+44 7391 402741


Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 30 June 2022