Artist_Aethan WillsMeet the Artist

Aethan Wills

Can you describe your work in three words? 
Japanese character 'MU', 'En Passant' (Chess move) and Fidelity. 

What got you into the arts? How did you become an artist?
I grew up surrounded by art in some way or another. Both my parents collected things: art, ceramics, antiques, furniture, ancient artefacts, paintings, sculptures and books, and my father was a conservator of oriental art. Perhaps it just rubbed off somehow, or maybe I saw art as a way of exploring ideas without the need to be concerned with solutions. Making art felt like creating questions and less about making statements. 

You graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2015 with an MFA in Sculpture. What drew you to painting?
I think most artists draw in some way or another, and I consider myself as an artist working in differing media. I happen to paint pictures as well as make objects and installations. In some way, I see my painting as contingent ideas for sculptural installations, 'blueprints' for things to be executed by objects later. There was an idea circulating in the sculpture program at the RCA that everything is sculpture: paint, matter, light, sound, taste, smell, objects and space, just stuff to be pushed about and transformed in some way. 

You were born in Kyoto and moved to London as a child. How important is your connection to Japanese culture and aesthetics in your work?
It has become increasingly important to me the older I get. It feels connected to how time and memories interact with the structure of self and culture. Like many alluring things, it's hard to pin down and scrutinise. Maybe that's why it's so intriguing for me as an artist: I want to see the thing just out of sight or veiled in an umbra. 

What is the process behind your work?
I think the structure of an idea is engaging, how they might be underpinned with experience, memories, thoughts and everything else. The trick, if there is one, is to find the 'stuff' to move about and explore these possibilities... You're never really certain of success or reviling a kind of truth; however, I am drawn to the idea of solving a mystery. 

Who are the artists that have inspired you most?
I don't have a list, as it would be too long, but I would say its not just artist with a capital "A" but everything else: from Cinema to Tibetan art, ceramics to music, traditional Japanese aesthetics to video games, tea gardens to seasonal conditions, history to Sci-Fi…

What do you hope to convey through your art?
I would always like to leave room for possibilities and questions evident in my work. The idea of something being solid and defined is less appealing to me than that of something open-ended and cloaked. I'm not a 'statement' kind of a guy.  

What interested you about joining Canopy Collections?
I think working with the founders of Canopy Collections was a big part of it. Working with people who are supportive and open to new ideas is very appealing to me and having the generosity and space to allow growth in partnership with each other. I think being invited to be a part of something from its genesis is very appealing, particularly at this moment overcoming the challenges of a global pandemic. Having the courage to take a risk and solve problems is a positive action and is something worth believing in and being a part of. 

Do you collect art from other artists? How important is it for you to live with art?
Well, the great thing about being an artist is having artist friends, and this always ends up with a good old fashion art swap, and I'm always looking for an excellent collectable object if I get the chance.

Any projects in the pipeline?  
Ask me again in a few months!