The Journal Gallery is pleased to present “Montgomery’s Tubercles,” an exhibition of new paintings by Michael Williams.
Perhaps in stenciling their hands those Spanish cavemen were looking forward through history, to the cities and machines that hands like theirs would one day build. Dialoguing through time, Williams uses airbrush-stenciled footprints as a visual device in the paintings here. By stenciling his feet, the hand’s clunkier cousin, Williams might be mocking the aspirational caveman and pointing out the failures of human civilization.
Thankfully, Williams undermines this pessimistic thesis when, with a few extra lines from the airbrush, the almost photographic images of feet are transformed into goofy creatures and people in domestic scenes. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving tradition of tracing your hand and turning the fingers into turkey feathers, in one canvas Williams transforms the toes of his foot into the tail fins of a lobster.
Here, as in his recent work, Williams paints over the entire airbrush tableau with a semi-transparent film of oil and pigment. This painted blur reduces the immediate visibility of the underlayer’s content, yet in time the objects and patterns divulge themselves, popping out of the ether. The visual experience is akin to how it must be for a newborn to see—without a sense of spatial dynamics, just bearing witness to a pure color field from which the occasional eyeball emerges.
The title of the exhibition, "Montgomery’s Tubercles," refers to the round bumps in the areola of a woman’s nipple which become more pronounced during pregnancy. First described by Dr. William Fetherstone Montgomery, an Irish obstetrician who died in 1859, Williams uses the term here as an oblique metaphor to paintings on a wall.
Michael Williams lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Williams' solo exhibitions include "Straightforward As A Noodle" at CANADA, New York; "Puzzle Paintings" at LTD, Los Angeles; and "Fried Paint" at Galleri Christina Wilson, Copenhagen, Denmark. A conversation between Phil Grauer and Michael Williams appears in entry 31 of the journal.
In coordination with "Montgomery's Tubercles," The Journal Gallery has published the book Michael Williams: Drawings 2007-2011 in an edition of 100, which will be available for purchase during the exhibition.