Housed in the museum’s Testaccio building, a former slaughterhouse, Howard’s Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian), was an installation of ten paintings and one sculpture. Created over a period of five years from 2011 – 2016,  Howard continued her examination of religion, mortality and violence, specifically ‘controlled violence’, meticulously planned and calmly executed. The title was taken from two opposing polemics, Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  

More of Howard’s paintings that explore pattern and the grid, were exhibited in galleries either side of the main space. These paintings explore the idiosyncratic qualities of oil paint, unpicking the accepted rules of engagement with this most traditional of mediums. In the large-scale canvases, Symptoms and Side Effects, (2016) and Wood for Trees, (2016) an interchange between background and foreground is specifically explored. Howard describes her aim, ‘to bring the decorative forward, to give it a life of its own, to play with pattern as perhaps reflecting a mental interior as well as a literal interior’. These paintings alongside the grid paintings explored ideas of order and entropy.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Bohen Foundation. Paintings of Violence will travel to the MASS MoCA as a solo presentation, in 2018.


Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard