Sue Williams, Purple Choke, 1995, oil on canvas, 15 × 18".

Sue Williams, Purple Choke, 1995, oil on canvas, 15 × 18".

Sue Williams

Galerie Eva Presenhuber | Waldmannstrasse

In the 1970s Sue Williams studied at CalArts, where Conceptualism ruled, but, as the story has it, she refused all its temptations in order to paint. Her paintings began as potent examinations of sexual politics and slowly evolved until they culminated in magnificent large-format abstractions. This show, encompassing small paintings—some on bits of found fabric—from 1995 and 1996, as well as collages and large paintings made between 2014 and the present, served to remind viewers of just how radically the strategies of critical art have changed, as has Williams’s painting, in ways that often wrong-foot interpreters of her work.

Williams’s small works of the mid-1990s carry a creepy intensity. Take Purple Choke, 1995. The lavender ground of the canvas recalls heroic-format abstract monochromes, but at fifteen by eighteen inches the scale is intentionally domestic. The picture beckons you to

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