Rachel Howard is a painter.
In her practice, Rachel Howard is concerned with exploring the possibilities of paint through expression and experimentation, in order to evoke feelings of tension and highlight the relationship between process and outcome. Howard approaches painting in a visceral, almost performative way. As a result, her painting oscillates between abstraction and figuration, entropy and order, certainty and vulnerability, with the artist using paint as a tool, medium, and subject.
A resounding potency of colour characterises each work, however 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 the application of the paint. Violence, self-violence, uncertainty and what it is to feel in the world today are matters that influence her work.
Early in her career Howard began utilising common household gloss paint, leaving it 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 using gravity as an invisible paintbrush. Her most recent series of large and smaller scale paintings explore the idiosyncratic qualities of oil paint, unpicking the accepted rules of engagement with this most traditional of mediums. Howard explores the reverie associated with oil, and in a process of applying and then removing paint creates a palimpsest.