Michael Williams, Truth About Painting 2 (detail), 2017, inkjet on canvas, Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich and New York © Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Forum Gallery

Forum 78

Over the last 10 years, Michael Williams has created paintings known for their layered imagery, eye-popping color, and use of techniques such as airbrushing and inkjet printing. His large-scale works often begin as drawings either on paper or on the computer screen before they are printed or transferred to canvas and then embellished with oil paint. For this, his first US solo museum exhibition, Williams will present a suite of new paintings and a series of drawings.

The narrative content of Williams’s work reveals his dark sense of humor and exploration of the role of the painter as observer. Three large canvases in the exhibition, for example, develop from the same scene from one of the artist’s drawings: a student seated in a classroom daydreaming about lacrosse during a lecture about global warming. Williams’s wickedly funny allegories merge with abstract painting and amoebic shapes, which sometimes fill the entirety of his canvases. The resulting works offer the eye a dense and absorbing terrain of color and form. Pushing his experiments with a large-scale latex printer one step further, Williams also presents two paintings that are wholly printed in contrast to his works in oil paint.

Upstairs in CMOA’s Scaife Galleries, which house the museum’s collection, a satellite installation of Williams’s “puzzle drawings” reveals a different aspect of the artist’s process. Since 2010, Williams has traveled with photocopies of his own drawings. While on the road, he cuts up and collages these copies to make new works on paper. The rough outline of a jigsaw puzzle piece is a consistent motif in the ongoing series; Williams also uses it as a tool for pure visual invention. Creating gaps in his preexisting imagery, the puzzle shape allows him to discover new forms of abstraction between recognizable things.

This exhibition was organized by Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.


Exhibition Images

Tube of paint squeezing green substance with the words

Michael Williams, “Truth About Painting 2,” 2017, inkjet on canvas, Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, © Michael Williams

Michael Williams, “untitled puzzle drawing,” 2016, ink and photocopy collage on paper, 12 x 9 in., Courtesy of the artist; CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, © Michael Williams


Exhibition Credits

Michael Williams is organized by Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art.

Funding for the Forum series is generously provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art, Jacqueline Miller Stewart, and the Ruth Levine Memorial Fund. General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Support for the exhibition catalogue is generously provided by CANADA, New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich and New York.