HIS PAINTINGS ARE A VIBRANT AND INTENSE COMBINATION OF ABSTRACTION AND FIGURITISM, KENT WILLIAMS TELL US MORE ABOUT HIS WORK AND HIS EXPLORATION OF OUR SENSE OF PERCEPTION
‘Incognito’ - oil on canvas, 2016
Your works exist in the space between figuritism and abstraction and are focused on exploring your connection to the world around you rather than depicting its actual state. Often a dream like state is achieved in your works, tell us about the main inspiration and focus behind your creations. What are the key questions you're looking to explore?
Well, is the actual state of the world the state one perceives it as being, or is it what it is – universal, regardless of the way an individual perceives it? The world does exist just the way it is and at the same time, exists the way one perceives it, right?– abstracted, turned, distorted, for better or worse, by our own perception of it’s state, to accommodate each and every one of us. By pulling the figure and juxtaposing it directly against abstraction or placing it in an expressively pronounced environment, painting can reflect this understanding or duality of our existence. I don’t know if representing a dream like state is my goal (though I suppose some of us live in this world in a dream state,) but rather trying to represent more of a suspension of time, or, to be more exact, a compression of time – a length of time, consolidated or abstracted and presented in a single image – multiple emotions or thoughts explored in a singular expression. Our world, or living in it, is a complex thing – simple and convoluted all at the same time, and I think my paintings can reflect that.
‘Romantique’ - oil on canvas, 2014
The expressive use of brushwork and gesturing in your paintings beautifully juxtaposes your traditional figurative representation, the resulting effect is a definitive signature style, but where did this style develop and how have you experienced its evolution throughout your practice?
Though all aspects of one’s work plays a role, my belief is that it’s in the drawing that defines the language or signature of one’s voice. Drawing requires one to tap into a place that’s uniquely taxing yet wonderfully exhausting when things go well. It demands a uniquely different kind of focus. This personal language or voice develops over time through observation combined with earnest effort — working hard at the thing. I don’t know if it matters so much if the subject is profound and heavy in its subject matter, or of a more light-hearted nature. What’s important is that what one pursues is done with passion and grasped for whole-heartedly. I would rather overreach and fall short than to dance around with what comes easy.
‘Blossomy’ - oil on canvas, 2013
I’d like to discuss your use of colour, although your figures themselves often appear in realist tones the strokes of colour around them have more suggestive qualities. What can you tell us about your choices of colour and the symbolism within them?
My paintings have certainly, over time, become more colorful. I simply think, the more confident my hand, attitude and pursuits have become, the more appropriate this colorfully expressive attitude is. That’s not to say that all my future works will be as colorful. I have a new series of “black” paintings planned for down the road a bit, but at the moment I’m still pushing color hard for my upcoming solo exhibition at 101/Exhibit in November here in LA.
'Cool with Red’ - oil on clayboard, 2014
The narratives in your pieces are often quite suggestive, what is it that inspires them? Do you find personal life bleeds into your work, is there an autobiographical aspect to them?
Straight-up storytelling is not the goal in my paintings. Most of my works are autobiographical in one way or another, some more than others, but whether or not the viewer directly or accurately interprets their meanings is not important to me. What I hope is that they elicit an emotional response – promoting exploration of their own personal experiences. A springboard of sorts to be able to tap into one’s own individual reality and matters. Though personal to me, ultimately the works reflect subjects that are broad in nature and universal in the larger life experience. Paintings can be important when expressing mankind’s most tumultuous and darkest days, and they can be just as important reflecting the simplest of things. I’ve dealt with my share of dark days, and I’ve been blessed with many beautiful ones as well. I don’t always think that paintings have to be hard won, though certainly I’ve had my share of those.
'Heart of the Matter’ - oil on canvas, 2014
One can’t help but note the postmodernism influences in your work, who and what would you say have been the biggest influences on your practise as an artist and the current works your producing?
I’m a fan of art, both historical and contemporary. I passionately love going to museums and galleries. To sit here and list artists that have played a role in my makeup seems a bit silly really, and impossible to some degree because there’s too much in the mix. But to name a (probably obvious) handful; Well certainly Klimt and Egon Schiele, Degas, Gauguin and Monet, Bacon and Freud, Antonio López García, de Kooning… de Kooning… I’ll stop there.
'Osseous Matter: Perched’ - oil on canvas, 2016
You also work in curation, the most recent being "Emotional Content," is curating something you’ve always been interested in and how did you find the transition into the role?
Yes, “Emotional Content” was an exhibition I was asked to put together for Evoke Contemporary in Santa Fe last year. I think curation is a means for me to express or vent my enthusiasm for museum and gallery going. My love for the feeling of being “in the space” of something special being presented. I’ve only had the opportunity to organize a few exhibitions at this point in time, and have have yet to have had the proper advance time to do it as fully as I would wish.
'She wore Lemon’ - oil on canvas, 2016
VISIT www.kentwilliams.com TO SEE MORE OF KENTS WORK
INTERVIEW by HANNAH SMITH ( Art Jobs )