Installation view, The Armory Show 2019
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce our participation in The Armory Show, Focus Section (Pier 90), Booth F17, with a solo presentation of new paintings by PETER WILLIAMS, titled The Enamels, on view from March 7th through the 10th, 2019. This year’s Focus Section is curated by Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Born in 1952, Peter Williams has spent the last four decades aggregating personal, mythical, allegorical, and political storytelling to create a radical oeuvre of fantastical paintings. With a vast knowledge of history, a wicked sense of humor, and a renewed sense of urgency, Williams explores ideas relating to incarceration and incarnation—from the physical to the spiritual to the geographical. Using the repeating pattern of the grid/cube, storyboard and (prison) bars as the archetypes and organizing structures for these works, the paintings feature a cadre of vignettes that comment upon racism, injustices and human folly throughout history. They are dramatized through a range of subjects including a slave who shipped himself to freedom in a crate, prisoners who shape-shift into actors and circus performers, a Middle-Passage “cruise” ship, a symbolic pyramid of power built by peoples of color, a Purple Horse symbolizing the incarnation of transformation, and an under-performing Black superhero named “The N-Word”—a recurring character in Williams’ oeuvre.
Created with oil-based enamel paint markers, oil paint, and graphite on canvas, Williams’ versatility as a painter is accentuated by his painted dot technique. He references a matrix of cultures and periods from impressionism and folk art to Australian Aboriginal dot painting and Afrofuturism. The readability of each painting is mitigated as the field of vibrant, colorful marks and cartoonish forms are transformed from a dazzling spectral vision to one of complex underlying messages.
Williams’ paintings challenge the viewer to make sense of what they see, to become active observers who confront their own understandings of personal identity as it relates to community and, ultimately, the greater humanity.
Peter Williams lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and is Senior Professor in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Delaware. He earned his MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and his BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His paintings are held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Delaware Art Museum, Howard University in Washington DC, Pizutti Collection, and the Mott-Warsh Collection in Flint, MI, among others.
Recent exhibitions include Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, curated by Assistant Curator Alejo Benedetti, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK; River of Styx (2018), Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; With So Little To Be Sure Of (2018), curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, CUE Art Foundation, New York; Soul Recordings (2018), Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite Of The Swamp (2017-18), organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Prospect Triennial, New Orleans, LA; Dark Humor: Peter Williams (2017), Allcott Gallery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; The N-Word: Common and Proper Nouns (2017), Ruffin Gallery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Me, My, Mine: Commanding Subjectivity in Painting (2016), DC Moore Gallery, New York; and the Whitney Biennial (2002), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Williams is the recipient of numerous honors including the National Academy of Design (inducted 2018), the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (2018), the Joan Mitchell Award (2004 and 2007), and a Ford Foundation Fellowship (1985-87).