Installation view, Sue Williams, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2006
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is delighted to announce a new solo exhibition by New York-based artist Sue Williams (*1954), featuring recent paintings and drawings.
In the late 1980s, Sue Williams’s painting, which was still heavily marked by a narrative approach, became known to a wider audience for the first time. In diary-like scenes of domestic violence and sexual obscenities reminiscent of commonly trivial picture stories such as comics and cartoons, the artist expressed her personal anger at the persistent social acceptance of sexism. In contrast to the consensus on the use of technical media such as photography and video as it was then predominant in the feminist artists’ critique, Williams insisted on discussing her concern for the female cause within the traditionally patriarchal domain that is painting.
As her artistic work evolved, Sue Williams began weaving her initial narrative fragments of human tragedies and body parts into a calligraphesque tissue of unconscious material made of lines and body forms, spots, and openings. Williams’s large-format paintings of that time illustrate in particular how her expressive ductus and the paint itself dissolve forms against an empty background, giving birth to a new kind of corporeality consisting of moving lines of varying width.
During the last couple of years, with her works reaching a higher level of abstraction, Williams has reduced her visual vocabulary to a few monochrome, wide, and powerfully gesticulatory brushstrokes. These somewhat elegant arabesques leave room for voids that offer a glimpse of the blank background, thus creating a new sense of lightness and lucidity. Williams’s latest works, on the other hand, reveal a renewed tendency towards more density characterized by closed lines and amorphous forms, which seem to forge a link between the artist’s two preferred media, painting, and drawing. Her ductus, whose precision is sometimes emphasized by contouring lines, once again displays figurative shapes and narrative elements that strive to stimulate the viewer’s associative imagination. At the same time, the pictorial flow of constellations colliding, intertwining, and growing apart lets the entire structure float weightlessly above the still monochrome background. These paintings, too, rely on an energetic force, which, however, does not so much cause inner tensions as – in unison with a superior ensemble – provide a common creative ground that keeps the paintings together.