Senon Williams

Exhibition, June 1-June 29, 2019

PRESS: Centerline News, Jim Bessman


Auxiliary Projects is pleased to present Modern Safety, the first New York solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist and musician Senon Williams, on view from June 1 – June 29, 2019.  There will be an opening reception on Saturday June 1 from 6-8pm.

Sometimes far fewer than 1000 words are worth a picture. Senon Williams’ ink text-paintings evoke humanity’s struggles with elegant economy. His work often contains figures, but he can also brilliantly create images in the viewer’s mind with an illuminating phrase. “The plant under eave during downpour,” for instance, conjures an immediate multi-sensory experience taking place entirely in the mind.  

Not content with two-dimensional presentation, Williams cuts and folds some of his paintings and fits them into hand-crafted wooden viewing boxes. Peering into an enclosed painting like a diorama, the viewer is all the more easily transported into his swirling textscapes.

Alone or in groups, Williams’ figures are often engaged in ambiguous, seemingly doomed struggles that evoke empathy even when we’re not really sure what’s going on inside. Like a filmmaker deploying his favorite cast of characters, Williams invites the audience to identify with the plight of these figures.  Dark silhouetted black mountains or trees are their frequent settings, but glowing gradients of hope run through the skies and Williams’ arid humor keeps us on just this side of the brink. Phrases such as “too male to care” or “no more death than usual” are closer to wry observation than despair, and a gentleness shines through. Our world, like theirs, is  “temporarily partially patched.” We will have to be content with, at most, provisional healing. Art can help.

Copies of Hunted & Gathered, Senon Williams’ 208-page hardbound book featuring 129 artwork reproductions in full color will be available for sale at the gallery. Published by Hamilton Press in 2017.

Hamilton Press came into being in 1990, as a result of a collaboration between Tamarind Master Printer, Ed Hamilton, and Los Angeles Artist and avid printmaker Ed Ruscha. The two had worked together on about 40 prints, and both had a great respect for the idea of producing original artworks in a multiple form.

“Senon Williams’s picto-thoughts, with all their doom, hope and meaning, form a new kind of novel and just the kind of novel I like to read.”
–Ed Ruscha