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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000

Peter Williams


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72 X 60 IN


My studio practice has grown and evolved over time. I started off painting images of African objects. When I lived in Albuquerque in the early seventies I painted images about Blacks in the southwest as cowboys and soldiers in 9th Calvary because my grandfather was a Buffalo Soldier. When I lived in Detroit in the mid-nineties, I began to think more conceptually about painting and I made work about Black identity and representation through the use of Black memorabilia and images of stereotypes. The last few years my work has explored media-derived images and the realities of police-on-Black crime—in response I created a Black superhero known as The "N" Word to appease my need to have some kind of revenge.

My work in the past two years include large canvases that bear witness to the awareness that the Black community is being eaten alive through governmental actions combined with my need to shed my whiteness, by which I mean all naï ve notions I had about racism. The slave hunter was a forerunner of police departments and embodied the nasty attitudes and perverse ownership of the Black body by any means necessary, including through beatings, mutilations, castration, and morbid sexual activities performed on women and men and children.

We find much of the same sentiment filtered through contemporary means: mass incarceration, restricted and segregated juries, the criminality of the police, the killing of innocent Black men, women, and children. We're seeing another rise of the Alt-right, Nazis, KKK and other hate groups.

How can we make art that bears witness to such evil and mendacious actions? This question looms in the back of my mind always. I believe it is my task because of the combination of skills and insight I bring into the work. Lately I've suggested that we, Black people, are being consumed as mass media and consumer goods. My recent works have unearthed cannibalism as a symbol of this degradation. After all, we are the perfect product, seasoned by generations of this carnage, packaged and easily found, we come in desirable flavors from High Yellow to Blue Black.

In 2016 as an Artist-in-Residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to explore a larger pictorial space and to dissemble my representational format. I had the studio space to explore the space and design of significantly larger format paintings up to twelve feet long. When I returned home, my size was again limited, which allowed me to simplify the pictorial space and to push the color to a higher key. The stylization of the figure gave way to a more conceptual figuration connecting into cultural and historic themes.

The recent paintings are based on Colin Kaepernick's travails in life and in the press. I look at expressing the thoughts and feelings that permeate the skin of paint like the skin of my subject. I am a latent expressionist in these works trying to tame the angst and pain of the battles won and lost on behalf of a grateful people.


Born 1952, Nyack, NY
Lives and works in Wilmington, DE

"My working career spans more than forty years and stretches back to the hometown high school experience, a great art teacher Joe McDowell and a supportive mother and family. My explorations studying painting were quite personal at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Finished my BFA at MCAD in MN and later more focused in Graduate school at MICA in Baltimore. I lived in majority Black cities, Baltimore and Detroit for 17 years and yet grew up in a small upstate town, Nyack, NY. All of these experiences created in me the need to record and create from a Black experience: Black Cowboys in New Mexico and figurative images in Detroit. There have been many sacrificial paintings in between. I have found the most fruitful directions growing out of my personal experiences and the middle class pretentions that have been exposed to me. So I make these paintings aware of the contradictions inherit in contemporary work that deals in irony. I am bold enough in my suppositions to feel that the road I travel in this work endows painting as a less pretentious activity. My sense of negrossity is one of empowerment, developing a studio practice that engages the contemporary world and word."

–Peter Williams

The paintings of Peter Williams have been described by artist and writer William Eckhardt Kohler as "in no particular order: hallucinogenic, acerbic, pained, beautiful, confessional, obsessive, critical, jarring, wild, weird, and profoundly human. They are born from Williams' experiences of race, appetite, and physical vulnerability. The visual lexicon is a heady blend of psychedelic color, abstract pattern, and cartoon-manic imagery." Williams will present his first solo exhibition at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles in 2018. Other recent solo exhibitions include Foxy Productions and Novella Gallery in New York and Paul Kotula Projects in Detroit. In 2017, he participated in Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite Of The Swamp, Prospect Triennial, New Orleans, and in 2016 he was included in the group show "Me, My, Mine: Commanding Subjectivity in Painting" at DC Moore Gallery. Williams is the recipient of numerous grants, including a Joan Mitchell Award in 2004, Williams was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and is in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Mott-Warsh Collection in Flint, MI.


Born 1952, Nyack, NY
Lives and works in Wilmington, DE


1987          M.F.A., Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
1975          B.F.A. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN
1970-72     University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
1969-70     Art Students League, New York, NY


River of Styx, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
With So Little To Be Sure Of, curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, CUE Art Foundation, New York, NY

Dark Humor: Peter Williams, Allcott Gallery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
The N-Word: Common and Proper Nouns, curated by Oswaldo Mesa, The Gallery, Baltimore County Catonsville College, Catonsville, MD
Dark Humor: Joyce J. Scott and Peter Williams, Center for the Arts Gallery, Towson University, Towson, MD
The N-Word: Common and Proper Nouns, Ruffin Gallery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Contested Identities: The Recent Work of Peter Williams, Hicks Art Center, Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA

The N-Word, Novella Gallery, New York, NY

Jim Chatelain and Peter Williams: Recent Work, Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, MI

Peter Williams, Foxy Production, New York, NY

NADA, Foxy Production, Miami, FL

Midnight Waltz in D Minor, Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, MI

Recent Works, Clough-Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN

Delaware Division of the Arts, Wilmington, DE

Artistic Repair, The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ
Baghdad and Other Unfinished Business, Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE

everything is everything, Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, MI

Focus Series: Paintings by Peter Williams, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN

Peter Williams: Alicia Studio Time, Kiehle Gallery, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
Black Heaven, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI
Peter Williams Paintings, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI

Life on a Black Planet, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI

Eight Years, Nine Months, Six Hours: A Retrospective of Paintings by Peter Williams, Meadow Brook Art Gallery, Rochester, MI

Decoys, A.R.C. Gallery, Chicago, IL

Peter Williams, Thimmesh Gallery, Minneapolis, MN

Peter Williams, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI

Peter Williams, Michigan Council for the Arts, Detroit, MI

Peter Williams, St. Cloud State University Gallery, St. Could, MN

Peter Williams, Mission Gallery, Taos, MN

Peter Williams, Merenstein Gallery, Nyack, NY


SOUL RECORDINGS, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington, DE
Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, MI

Bushwick Parlour, Brooklyn, NY
Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite Of The Swamp, Prospect Triennial, New Orleans, LA

David & Schweitzer Projects, Brooklyn, NY
Paul Kotula Projects, Ferndale, MI

As If, Novella Gallery, New York, NY
Soul, Novella Gallery, New York, NY

Ann Arbor Drones Group Show, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI

Giving Time To Time, Paul Kotula Projects, Detroit, MI
Eye Teeth, Paint Creek Center, Rochester, MI
Grammar of the Elite, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI

Race, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI

Stuff: International Contemporary Art from the Collection of Burt Aaron, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI
State of the Union, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI
Shrinking Cities, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Black Panther Rank and File, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
American Icons, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI
Contemporary African American Artists, Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, Frederick, MD

The Whole World Is Rotten: Free Radicals and the Gold Coast Slave Castles of Paa Joe, traveling exhibition curated by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY
Cheers, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI

Free Fall, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI
Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation, Traveling exhibition curated by Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; Center for Contemporary Art, LA; University of N. Texas, Denton, TX; Western Washington University, WA
Windsor Biennial, Art Gallery of Windsor Group, Ontario, Canada
Head Games, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI

Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Stray Show, Art Revolution Gallery, Chicago, IL
Art Chicago, Art Revolution Gallery, Chicago, IL

African Influences in the Visual Arts of the Americas, Museo Afro-Brasilero, Bahia de Salvador, Brazil

Looking Forward, Looking Black, traveling exhibition curated by Jo Anna Isaak of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
Body and Soul, Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Rochester, MI
Naked, Detroit Contemporary Gallery, Detroit, MI
On the Verge of Abstraction, Center Galleries, College for Creative Arts, Detroit, MI

HOT, Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, MI

Gilda Snowden Selects Work by Detroit-area Artists, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Interventions, Detroit Institute for the Arts, Detroit, MI
Dis/Abilities, Slussen Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Inside/Outside, Detroit Artist Market, Detroit, MI
The Figure Show, Buckham Gallery, Flint, MI

Cultural Diversities, St. Paul Companies, St. Paul, MN
Art Expo Chicago, Thimmesh Gallery, Chicago, IL

Drawing for Drawing, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Endangered: Visual Art by Men of Color, Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Art For Life, AFAR, Troy, MI

Re-Presents, Broadway Gallery, Detroit, MI

Mix, Broadway Gallery, Detroit, MI

Minneapolis, North Dakota Museum of Art, Fargo, ND

Twelve Artists and Their Work, First Bank Place, Minneapolis, MN

McKnight Fellowship Exhibition, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, MN

One Two Three Show, Barry Richard Gallery, Minneapolis, MN

Artists Initiative, Washington Avenue Space, Minneapolis, MN

Annual Show, National Arts Club, New York, NY

Woodstock Music Festival Exhibition, Bethel, NY
American Art, National Council of Jewish Women, Essex, NJ
Annual Show, Afra-Arts Gallery, White Plains, NY
Group Show, Merenstein Gallery, Nyack, NY


Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN
Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN
Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, MI
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN
Howard University, Washington, DC
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Henry Ford Community College, Dearborn, MI
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI


2011          Wynn Newhouse Award
2007          Joan Mitchell Foundation, Santa Fe Art Institute, NM
                 Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship
2004          Distinguished Professor Award, Wayne State University Detroit, MI
                 Joan Mitchell Foundation, Santa Fe Art Institute, NM
2001          Humanities Center, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
1997          Humanities Fellowship, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
                 Excellence in Teaching Award, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
1996          Mercedes Benz Project
1991          Detroit Council for the Arts Urban Margins
1989          Michigan Council for the Arts Artist Grant
1985-87      Ford Foundation Fellowship
1983          McKnight Foundation Fellowship


Davis, Ben. "See Highlights From the Just-Opened Prospect 4 Triennial in New Orleans," Artnet News, Nov. 20, 2017
"Prospect New Orleans Announces Participating Artists For Its Fourth Edition," Artforum, May 23, 2017
Rubenstein, Bradley. "Bearing Witness, Peter Williams Advances an Art History of Accountability," ArtSlant, Mar. 31, 2017

Micchelli, Thomas. "The Body Politic, in the Flesh," HYPERALLERGIC, Nov. 26, 2016

Sharp, Sarah Rose. "Paintings of a Homegrown Black Superhero," HYPERALLERGIC, Oct. 18, 2016
Indrisek, Scott. "N-Word Versus the Pig Cops: Peter Williams Bears Witness," Modern Painters, Mar. 31, 2015
Roffino, Sara. "Peter Williams," The Brooklyn Rail, Apr. 2, 2015

Yau, John. "Peter Williams's Body, Opened and Closed," HYPERALLERGIC, Feb. 24, 2013

Dobbins, Hamlett. "Recent Works Peter Williams," Clough Hanson Gallery Rhodes College (Catalogue)

McGee, Julie L. "Peter Williams: Artistic Repair," Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Catalogue)
Michelli, Thomas. "Peter Williams: Artistic Repair," The Brooklyn Rail, Nov. 4, 2007

Katz, E. "Gallery director continues artistic revolution in new space," Daily Tribune, Apr. 7, 2006
Sousanis, Nick. "Peter Williams embodies the city," Metro Times, Apr. 19-25, 2006

Carducci, Vince and Collins, L.M. "Artist not in residence," Metro Times, Jul. 7-13, 2004

Cohen, K.G. "New approach elevates work," Detroit Free Press, May 25, 2003
Crawford, Lynn. "Peter Williams, Revolution Gallery," Tema Celeste 98, Summer, 2003
"Artist Peter Williams: on race, history and painting,", Apr. 2003

Clark, Vicky A., Bloemink, Barbara, and Merino, Ana. Comic Release! Negotiating Identity for a New Generation, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University (Catalogue)
Mannisto, Glen. "The new sincerity," Metro Times, May 15, 2002
Provenzano, Frank. "From destruction, creation." Detroit Free Press, March 7, 2002
Rinder, Lawrence, et al. 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art (Catalogue)

Carducci, Vince. "Peter Williams's Black Humor," New Art Examiner, No. 2, Nov.-Dec. 2001
Colby, J.H. "Peter Williams paints with passion about his experiences as a black man," Detroit News, Feb. 23, 2001
Crawford, Lynn. "Peter Williams at Revolution," Art in America, No. 9, Sep. 2001
Rizk, Mysoon. "Peter Williams: Meadow Brook Art Gallery," New Art Examiner, No. 5, Feb. 2001
Sawyer, R. "Bigger and blacker: Peter Williams showcases work at Revolution," South End, Feb. 28, 2001

Cohen, K.G. "Eight Years showcases artists many styles," Detroit Free Press, Sep. 24, 2000
Colby, J.H. "Painter matures with exhibit that reveals the naked truth," Detroit News, Sep. 8, 2000
Goody, Dick. "Interview," / Machmut-Jhashi, Tamara. "The," / Mannisto, Glen. "Peter Williams' Mercurial Space," / Wilson, Rachel E. "If," Eight Years Nine Months Six Hours: A Retrospective of Paintings by Peter Williams, Oakland University (Catalogue)