With an oeuvre that suggests the delicacy of flesh, the subjectivity of perception and the complexity of our emotional spectrum, Rachel Howard could be described as a painter of life. Each body of work is directly concerned with exploring the intricacies of what it means to be human, considering our capacity to feel, think, question, hurt, breakdown, worship, sin, rebel or conform.
The artist is interested in the extent to which her paintings might physically and emotionally resonate with the viewer, and this is evident in the visceral appeal of the work.
A resounding potency of colour characterises each of Rachel Howard’s works, and yet it is not precisely colour that interests her, but instead the emotional charge of how paint is applied to a canvas—the state of mind and body which might be inscribed into a work through one’s expressionist application of the paint.
In 1995 the artist began utilising common household gloss paint—at times layered with oil or acrylic—leaving the medium to separate in the can so that the colour pigment sinks beneath a layer of thick, sumptuous varnish. The clear gloss and pure colour are then worked upon the canvas separately in a highly specific manner; with gravity assuming the role of the paintbrush, the varnish is applied so that it drags the pigment down the canvas, giving way to its own weight and tracing a fluid path of movement.
Howard was born in County Durham in 1969 and graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, in 1991. She was awarded the Princes Trust Award in 1992 to support her art practice, was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2004 and received the British Council Award in 2008.
The artist lives and works in Gloucestershire and London.