Michael Williams at Gladstone Gallery
Gladstone Gallery, New York
29 February – 25 April, 2020
Williams’ work highlights both the banality and extraordinary nature of contemporary life, and the works in this presentation continue the artist’s careerlong interest in visualizing these complex subjects. His multifaceted, masterfully constructed compositions collage text, symbols, animals, and figures that require a new mode of reading in order to understand the meaning behind each narrative he depicts. To divine Williams’ works, the viewer visually unpacks obstructed layers and image fragments to find concrete signifiers that are actively constructing and deconstructing themselves. Though there may be hundreds of layers in one of Williams’ paintings, the process of printing flattens the picture down to a single plane, removing any physical evidence of the artist’s complex approach to each composition. The multilayered nature of these paintings is readily apparent in a work like “Struck Set,” which depicts a disheveled dining room table with chairs out of place, broken plates, and red wine spills. In this composition, Williams also includes his own paintings from this exhibition on the walls of this imagined room, suggesting conceptual and narrative through lines between this group of paintings. In addition to demonstrating Williams’ compelling ability to visualize narrative events and concepts, this exhibition also reveals the artist’s dark sense of humor and continual investigation of the role of the painter in a post-internet world.
For this exhibition, Williams presents a series of large-scale inkjet paintings that continue his exploration of the possibilities and complications inherent to making and understanding a painting in the digital age. The works on view are composed entirely in Photoshop with the use of a digital drawing pad. By rendering these works in the format of flattened inkjet prints, Williams questions the action of painting as a physical extension of the body. Utilizing the full potential of these new processes, Williams makes paintings that can also function formally and move the conversation beyond what defines the analog versus the digital. Through a series of compositions that incorporate both familiar and new subjects, Williams demonstrates his singular approach to artmaking.
Michael Williams was born in 1978 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He has been the subject of numerous major solo and groups exhibitions at institutions such as Le Consortium, Dijon, France; The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, Canada; Secession, Vienna; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Ballroom Marfa, Texas; and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow.