Kent Williams’ paintings and drawings are provocative, complex, and ambiguous as they blend figurative realism with obscuring abstraction. For his solo show, “Zoetic Trinity” Williams incorporates another medium into his powerful body of work with a series of traditional photographs, which further draw us into his chaotic narratives. Photography is an important part of Williams’ process and has been a long-time interest for the California artist. While Williams has exhibited photographs in an altered and painterly format, he will now show them in their raw state without manipulation or mark-making. As we view the work in this exhibition, which also consists of abstractions and figurative works with recurring models, we make connections between this trinity of mediums. And yet, each piece also stands alone as a compelling work of art that reflects this artist’s fantastical approach to contemporary painting. “Zoetic Trinity” opens on Friday, September 28th during the Railyard Art Walk. Read our Q&A with Kent Williams below for personal insights from the artist on this passionate new body of work.
Q&A with Kent Williams:
Can you explain the title of the show and how you came to it? And how does the work you’ve created align with the idea of “Zoetic Trinity?”
The work in the exhibition, or my work in general has always been about or related to life – my life, the people in my life, the vitality of living. The good and the bad – the perfect and the imperfect, but mostly the little things in between that add up to what makes us human. “Trinity” in this case represents the reverence I have for the three paths I’m presenting here; drawings, paintings and photography – simply that. Seemed like a straight forward title to express these passions.
How will the three mediums play off each other? What relationships do you see between them?
Drawing has always served as a natural catalyst to lay the foundation for painting. As one will see in the exhibition, some drawings serving as direct basis for the paintings. Others serving as suggestions or springboards to expand upon with the painting, and others as straight up stand alone works.
I’ve always been hugely interested in photography and have often woven the medium itself into my works in less than obvious ways and sometimes in very matter-of-fact ways. This time however, I’m presenting my photographic works in a very traditional manner. Straight single-image works with no remarking or painterly manipulation. I’m very excited to finally make the time, put in the effort, and have the opportunity to present a handful of these photographs to my audience.
What significant subjects are you working with in this body of work – recurring models?
I do have a tendency to work with a particular model for a number or works if my working relationship with the model is a good one, and if I discover upon working with them initially that their look lends itself well to my language. Sometimes I don’t know this until I’ve had a drawing session with them, even when upon initial impression I think that they would be great to draw. It’s often not the case. Until I’ve had some time with them to discover those subtle attributes that make up the voice of their face or body. Discover those little personal obsessions that lend themselves to the language of my line. But that’s really the interesting part… the discovery of that thing! I’ve been working recently a lot with a friend, Tracy Lynn, who is a yoga teacher and fusion dance performer here in LA.
Photographs – have you shown photography before at EVOKE? How does that play into your process and what photos will be in the show?
I have shown a few manipulated photographic works in the past, where the same language of mark-making one sees in my paintings and drawings were employed.
Tell me a little about the process for your abstractions – I see obscured images peering through, can you tell me about the layering process that goes into that?
Sort of like a quiltwork of paint, I want my subjects to absorb the paint around them, where foreground and background play as important a role at times. Pushing and pulling the line/paint/subject/emotion until a history of matter develops, even at times to the point of what appears to be pure abstraction.
I am a fan of suggestion and ambiguity. I don’t generally like when things are spelled out completely for me or handed to me on a platter. That’s true for my like of art, literature, film, etc. I want my paintings to have enough tangibility to hold the viewer for more than a brief moment, but not so literal that they don’t have to bring anything to the table.
Any other insights behind particular works or the show in general?
I think the painting that best represents where I am with my work, and bridges that gap most perfectly for me between my interest in representation (especially relating to the figure) and abstraction (or expressive/emotive mark-making) is She Wore Lemon. (pictured at the top of this post)