Post #1050 • September 12, 2007, 11:20 AM • 21 Comments
Los Angeles - It has been a long time since I went to a gallery exhibition of a living artist and saw work so good that I got angry about it, convinced that it was time to put the computers in a box, go in the studio, and not come out until something half as adequate came into being. Normally I'm trying to soft-pedal criticism. Here I'm trying to soft-pedal praise. But it's hard, because Kent Williams draws as well as Egon Schiele and his exhibition at Merry Karnowsky is a stunner.
Williams comes out of comics, and in 2005 he illustrated the graphic novel version of The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky, producing an interpretation that was in many ways superior to the film. An illustrator's fondness for toys and text pervade the works, but the artist's brute-force facility and an obvious feel for the luscious qualities of oil make them more than illustration writ large. There's a set intersection between illustration cranked up to fine-art ambitions and fine art racheted down to illustrational ambitions, turning the fuzzy gray line between the two pursuits into a road big enough to provide passage. (Showing Williams alongside Hernan Bas would be instructive in more ways than one.) Williams is one of the heaviest vehicles on that road. Now excuse me while I turn the computer off.