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Kent Williams
Evoke Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Amanda Malloy


Kent Williams, “Vases: Ensor,” 2017, oil on canvas, 60 x 60

Continuing through November 20, 2017

Known in part for his stunning illustrations for graphic novels and animated adaptations, Kent William’s current paintings are less figurative and much more expressive than what we typically see. Several don’t reveal any figurative subject, but the pinks and mint greens that permeate many of William’s paintings create a pleasing dissonance against the deep navies and rusty reds he uses more sparingly. There’s tension in the paintings not only between colors, but in the textures as well. Rough layers of thickly applied oil paint emerge from glossy smooth patches. When figures do appear, they appear like a face from an unfinished marble sculpture. Patterns reveal themselves and then melt back into the composition, and still-life subjects materialize through a haze of expressive, yet meticulous brushwork.

“Romantique," the only image here to portray a fully realized human form, showcases William’s illustrative skill. In it, a shirtless blonde man stretches sensuously at the center of the canvas. The setting isn’t clear, but hazy floral patterns and what looks like billowing fabric floats around the subject, whose gaze doesn’t meet ours but peers down towards the lower right-hand corner of the canvas where the skull and upper torso of a skeleton lays casually in the foreground. William’s achieves a subtle yet palpable tension where sexuality and death, flesh and bone, are comfortably juxtaposed. While the painting is inviting, and the man’s pose welcomes our gaze, there’s a voyeuristic character to this, and indeed all of the paintings in the exhibition. Williams creates a world that we want to enter into fully, but that doesn’t quite feel like it was made for us.


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