new-york

Sue Williams, Philip Zelikow, Historian, 2013, oil and acrylic on canvas, 6' 2“ x 11' 2”.

Sue Williams

303 Gallery

Sue Williams, Philip Zelikow, Historian, 2013, oil and acrylic on canvas, 6' 2“ x 11' 2”.

Although the title of Sue Williams’s most recent show, “WTC, WWIII, Couch Size,” suggested a two-to-one ratio of global horror to interior decoration, what came to the fore was pure painting of such boisterous energy that it holds the blandness of bourgeois home furnishing at bay even as it sublimates sociopolitical anxiety. It does so by dint of the sheer nerve with which that anxiety is apotropaically invoked—not so much whistling past the graveyard as striking up a whole brass band against death. In a way, this is not terribly different from what Williams was doing in the work with which she burst onto the scene twenty-five years ago, what Nancy Spero recognized as “violent, cartoonish, explicit, voracious” delineations of the sadomasochism of everyday life. Williams took some heat in those days for her supposed promotion of a cult of victimhood, but how many of her critics

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