Aethan Wills’ practice is primarily concerned with Japanese aesthetics and ideals. In his most recent series of oil paintings, fragmented visions of temple and tea gardens are depicted within an in-between state of figuration and the abstract. Perceived through the traditional Japanese Shō-ji screens that the artist transforms into fine grids, these elusive landscapes celebrate the passing of the seasons. Tree branches and flowers are translated into abstract brushstrokes and painted on either small-scale wooden panels or monumental canvases. Born in Kyoto, Wills often revisits in his work past memories and aesthetic sensations that are infused with his Japanese heritage. Unlike the western approach to beauty and taste, which is often based on short-lasting trends, Japanese aesthetics are rooted in broader ideals that serve as guidance on how one should approach life and art. The artist revels in such principles as spontaneity, simplicity and the beauty in imperfection, which he relentlessly investigates within his work. The viewer is left with a sense that something remains hidden, veiled in shadow or just out of reach.
Wills's work is held in private collections in the UK, Japan, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany and South Korea. He has exhibited with Camden Arts Centre, London; Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen; Vitrine Gallery, London; 66 Space, Kyoto; Hal Projects Gallery, Seoul.