CANADA will re-open its newly expanded gallery with oil paintings by Michael Williams. In his debut solo show, “Cancuned and Other Paintings from 2007”, Williams boldly resurrects magical realism on a monumental scale. These paintings offer inner-visions of weird characters in bizarre environments that are painted with the undeniable drive of necessity.
Between jags of adventure swimming in Narragansett Bay, Williams painted in his mother’s garage in Providence, Rhode Island. When his mother’s garage filled up, he rented his neighbor’s garage and continued painting. The net result is a startling and powerful body of work.
Williams creates a wild funhouse atmosphere glowing with intensely felt self-realization. The acute craziness of Ivan Albright, the ecstatic urbane visions of Florine Stettheimer, and the manically tender paint handling of Jess all collide in some of most unique paintings to hit New York in a long time. Williams has created a determined and highly idiosyncratic surrealism that feels genuine and individual.
Working almost entirely with a small brush, Mr. Williams manages to create texture that takes on an alive quality, similar to a burrowing parasite living under the skin or cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake. Whatever it is, the texture begins to overtake the potentially allegorical or symbolic meanings of the paintings, and launches them into a place all there own. An incredible and sickly world of human excess, the excess of the human mind when it has too much time on its hands.
Williams is a cheerful sort of surrealist, a New England surrealist. With an aptitude for portraiture (even when it is a portrait of a lamb) and a keen attention for detail, his paintings remind of another New England artist, Norman Rockwell. To Williams, the person best qualified to interpret one of his paintings would be his thirteen-year old cousin. Earnest, searching and free, that is the type of person who would feel a strong connection to a world where there are no hierarchies, where art, in the classic sense, is the only thing worth having.