Daniella Williams : A Corporeal Understanding

My name is Daniella Williams and I’m a figurative painter living and working out of Toronto, Canada. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with depicting flesh and bodies whether it be by painting, drawing or observing. The weightiness, the range of tones and the vulnerability that they hold has always made it fascinating subject matter that I can never stop unpacking. 

My practice consists of portraiture, and figure studies of close friends, compelling strangers and of myself. I focus on creating a relationship between the subject being represented, their environment and the viewer. It is important for me to create a kind of familiarity and mundanity; perhaps the subject feels like someone you’ve seen before, you recognize parts of the self in the painting, even the gaze, as the subject looks out at the viewer, becomes personal. For me painting is about intimacy and vulnerability in every sense whether subtle or overt and intrusive.

Daniella Williams : A Corporeal Understanding
‘Tough Tuesdays’ 2020, Oil on canvas

Female representation has consistently become a fluid theme throughout my work as I attempt to rework ideals around traditional beauty and transcend boundaries of female archetypes historically represented in classical painting and thus show the human form not only as aesthetically beautiful but also as mundane, flawed and complex. My hope is that through my perception of the body; the suggestion of flesh creates some kind of recognition for the viewer to then interpret their own related and personal human experience. That through the sitter in the painting the viewer can conceptualize and unravel what it means to inhabit one’s own body.

Daniella Williams : A Corporeal Understanding
‘If I Had To Choose One Word It Would Be Soft’ 2019, Oil on canvas

I focus closely on the subtle warm shifts and shadow that exist on the surface of the skin to give the body life and create a bridge between the living, breathing body represented and the actual painting. Tonal variations, imperfections, bumps, bruises, curves, bones and bulges become visceral and then maybe the viewer can understand what this body, this person has endured a little better.

 Each woman tells a story about her lived experience through her mannerism and corporeal qualities. Each sitters individuals spirit shines through often unintentionally which always informs and determines my colour palette. My paints become sculptural as I carve out and methodically identify the spirit and qualities of a figure through colour and form.

Daniella Williams : A Corporeal Understanding
‘First Embrace’, 2019, Oil on canvas

Thus the paintings are expressive of the individual represented but also equally as cathartic regarding my own individual experience of what it is to be a woman, to be in a body and to observe another’s body. Overtime and across culture female bodies have been represented in a plethora of degrees from extreme praise and adornment to defilement with underlying tones of shame around nudity and diversity. To me this range has always held truth to the way we have been groomed to understand our own individual vessels of skin; profound, confusing, awkward, shameful but always fascinating to observe and consider. 

From the classical figuration of Tintoretto to the controversial and complex scenes of Eric Fischl, art observers have become no stranger to the implicit taboos that exist of the nude and female figure. To me this has always been a conversation I have felt I needed to make a contribution towards by bringing this subject into context with variations of both subtle and explicit commentary and imagery. I want to help liberate those who feel that their bodies are to be hidden and spoken quietly about or at least give them solace through paintings that they can extract some kind of shared experience through. By depicting the surface of the skin maybe we can better understand what lies beneath and begin to provide a platform for a congruent human experience.

Daniella Williams : A Corporeal Understanding
‘Sunburnt and Indifferent’ 2020, Oil on canvas

Currently my focus is to continue developing my practice by broadening my subject matter in terms of diversity and normalizing taboos. I hope to paint subject from all walks of life and all corners of the world as they share their experience with me. I am working towards seeking out models of all races, ages, sizes and sexual orientations to take part in my practice with a shared sense of enthusiasm around representation as we take apart the gruesome, the cynical, the fascinating and divine and every quality in between that is implied through our bodies and human expression.

If you’re interested in what I do and want to keep up with my journey as a young artist finding her footing follow me on Instagram – @daniellacwill

For questions regarding my work, hired commissions, or purchasing existing pieces I would love to hear from you through email – daniellacw@hotmail.ca or through Instagram Direct Message – @daniellacwill

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