Los Angeles

Guy Williams

David Stuart Gallery

Two years ago Williams showed a group of large, organic wall constructions that seemed to relate to a kind of timeless biomorphology. Now he presents us with a totally different approach—large, sharp-edged, formal paintings that combine large curvilinear shapes with fragments of billboard-sized lettering, and in some of the pictures, objects, generally glass-fronted boxes containing objects shaped similarly to the painted image, affixed to the canvas.

The paintings and constructions fit the contemporary mold. They derive, in part, from Arp, Ellsworth Kelly and certain other hard-edge painters. They make use of the typical acrylic colors of this brand of contemporary painting and concern themselves with a play between formalism and Surrealist ambiguity.

The show, though, most pointedly raises the problem of the lack of place the academically, intellectually-oriented painter holds in today’s art world. These are intelligent and effective pictures, but they seem to be dealing in analysis. They use variations on the themes of others, and raise questions better asked of students than of other practicing artists. The immediate reaction, today, is to brush this sort of painting aside because, in fact, it is beside the point of the current critical dialectic. If it is fecund, then it is only so to the inexperienced. If it opens possibilities, these possibilities are already being attacked by others. And, yet, it is apparent that these are attractive, well-made pictures that the tremendous competition for ideas has left lying in the lurch. It seems a shame that our response to the contemporary idiom has been superseded by the rush to innovation, to the point where it has become exceedingly difficult to simply enjoy good solid painting.

Don Factor