Harvesting Ectoplasm Off the Evil Ghost of a Dead Monkey
Infinite Einsteins and the Equation for the Inside Out Maiden
Don't let the gaudy gold frames or the pan in the New York Times put you off. This exhibition of works by Robert Williams is one of the most engaging painting shows in town. Williams' brash images might be more influenced by R. Crumb and TV cartoons than by Robert Ryman or Anselm Kiefer, but that is not to say that he has worked any less than those artists toward pushing painting and drawing to the absolute limits of expressivity.
Born in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1943, Williams packs so much imagery into each work that at times they appear to be total abstractions of pure, pulsating color. Harvesting Ectoplasm Off the Evil Ghost of a Dead Monkey, for instance, is a canvas in which a multitude of tiny and expressive red and chartreuse brushstrokes swirl around the central portion of the surface in a dizzying mass. The fact that the scene depicted literally and hilariously reflects the work's title is simply an added bonus. Williams' works can be read on many levels.
Infinite Einsteins and the Equation for the Inside Out Maiden is a wildly imaginative work featuring a fragmented portrait of Einstein, who seems to be deconstructing as he teaches a class. He points to a mathematical equation that presumably explains how a female nude -- shown on the left -- may turn herself inside out. In all of the 18 works on view, Williams takes the possibilities of painting and rips its guts out.
Robert Williams at Tony Shafrazi, 119 Wooster, NY NY 10012 (Dec. 13, 1997 - Jan. 31, 1998).