Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce Peter Williams: Black Universe, the artist's second solo exhibition with the Gallery, on view from July 9 through October 10, 2020. This exhibition* is held concurrent to, and is an extension of, his solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the alternative space Trinosophes. (Please note that the exhibition will open to the public on Thursday, July 9th; however, in accordance with local health mandates, the gallery will not be hosting an artist reception.)
Black Universe is an exhibition of new figurative and abstract work by artist Peter Williams, whose visually seductive paintings intertwine art historical references and allegory with current events and personal life experiences. Over the course of more than 45 years, Williams’ practice has actively confronted a multitude of subjects, including the oppressive social structures of white supremacy and discrimination. Williams' paintings present an uncensored perspective of dominant contemporary culture—challenging our desires, humor, and understanding of humanity.
In Black Universe, Williams tells an Afrofuturist tale of a brown-skinned race that escapes to outer space in search of new planet homes and an end to the cycles of oppression from which they have been subjected. The tale that Williams has envisioned is a journey of consciousness and conscience, a metaphor for the inner and outer travels that all of us must undertake to confront the truth about race and ourselves. The travelers in Black Universe use their bodies and minds to visit long-forgotten ancestral lands and spirits, learning to draw strength from their traditions while finding new ways to live in the present.
The formal qualities of Williams’ painting, such as surface, color, shape, and form, function purposefully in the artist’s work. Williams slips between abstraction and figuration, conveying simultaneous perceptual experiences. Color is his self-professed “gateway drug” that entices the viewer to engage with his paintings. He uses pattern and distortion as devices to portray the disruptive conditions that affect Black lives in society. His cartoonish characters may grab the viewer’s attention at first, but nothing can be taken at face value. An unfiltered network of activity resides in the layers beneath the surface.
The exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is organized and curated by guest curators Larry Ossei-Mensah and Rebecca Mazzei. This exhibition highlights two bodies of work: the 2019 (ongoing) figurative Black Exodus series (on view at MOCAD) and Narration and Transition, a selection of abstract paintings (on view at Trinosophes). These exhibitions open on July 2 and will be on view through January 10, 2021.
Peter Williams lives in Wilmington, DE and has just retired from his position as Senior Professor in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Delaware, where he taught for 15 years. Previously, he taught at Wayne State University for 17 years. He earned his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and his BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His paintings are held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Washington DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Howard University, Washington DC; Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, MA; Davis Museum at Wellesley College, MA; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; Mott-Warsh Collection in Flint, MI; The Bunker/Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Palm Beach, FL; and Espacio 23/Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Miami, FL, among others.
Exhibitions include Incarceration (2020), curated by Christopher Reitz, Cressman Center for the Arts/Hyte Institute, University of Louisville, KY; Men of Steel, Women of Wonder (2019), curated by Assistant Curator Alejo Benedetti, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK; River of Styx (2018), Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; With So Little To Be Sure Of (2018), curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, CUE Art Foundation, New York; Soul Recordings (2018), Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite Of The Swamp (2017-18), organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Prospect Triennial, New Orleans, LA; Dark Humor: Peter Williams (2017), Allcott Gallery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; The N-Word: Common and Proper Nouns (2017), Ruffin Gallery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Me, My, Mine: Commanding Subjectivity in Painting (2016), DC Moore Gallery, New York; and the Whitney Biennial (2002), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Williams is the recipient of numerous honors including the National Academy of Design (inducted 2018), the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (2018), the Joan Mitchell Award (2004 and 2007), and a Ford Foundation Fellowship (1985-87).