Mount Atom is the imagined place name which describes Monk's new series of paintings; partly in the clouds, partly extending into the substrata of the earth, its exact coordinates are unknowable. Once one crosses the threshold and enters the unfamiliar realm of this dislocated world, a small mound of earth can easily be fooled for a mountain peeking through the clouds and the monumental and microscopic become the same. In fact, the harder you search for a landmark or familiar sign, the more its substance billows and shrinks away. It could be said that Mount Atom is more a state of mind than a locale.
This body of work was produced when the artist was confined within the interior space of his studio during the recent lock down, and this experience is translated to the scale and intimacy of the paintings. As profiles of the landscape, the paintings mirror some of the qualities of architectural space in the way that slices of sky and sun and land are organized and divided. Monk exercises an economy of means that lends itself to bold visual impressions, where nature's enduring forms are dressed down but full of inner brilliance. Present in equal measure are sinister and sublime forces, a combination that feeds the human imagination with a sense of anticipation toward the unkown.
Monk has contemplated these motifs for nearly ten years now and their appearances continue to morph with each series of paintings he makes. Drifting clouds are recognizable insofar as they are shapes summoned from an expanse of electric colour. Ringed patterns in the earth loop and squirm in playful primordial forms. The smoke of an eternal volcanic flame leads the way up and down the valleys and peaks of the land, as cosmic events flash in the high noon sky. His observations of this world reflect a place which is constantly changing; if there is a path through Mount Atom, it is surely not a straight line.