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Jim Williams - A Full Year

  • Gross McCleaf Gallery 127 South 16th Street Philadelphia, PA, 19102 United States (map)
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Jim Williams
"A Full Year"
April 4-28, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 5-7 pm

"Artists with Parkinson's Disease change their style as the complaint progresses, I'm told. In my case, the drawing became more arbitrary and the color more "expressive." But I've always been an observer of everything in the sunlight--that's why I paint outdoors--and the lack of disciplined adherence to what I chose to see left me without the feeling that I'd sunk my teeth into anything. Different strokes....So I pushed the boisterousness back a little. I tried to combine what I'd recently learned about the possibilities of color with a dash of stricter observation and a radically new life, and this is what I got. I'm happy with it." - Jim Williams

It is inspiring to witness an artist's ability to create work through adversity, dealing with the circumstances of life to continue to make paintings. The Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis in the last third of his life. Because of his condition, he developed a style that was looser and freer than that of his earlier days and continued to challenge our understanding of the possibilities of painting. Jim Williams is a painter first and foremost. He invites the fullness of his experiences to inform his paintings and make them richer. 

Williams' recent work is both a continuation of and a departure from his work of the past. The artist still mostly paints places that are familiar to Philadelphians but he filters the imagery through his new and changing way of seeing and moving. These recent paintings begin with the artist taking a seemingly ordinary scene and distilling it into its most basic formal elements. He concentrates on the shapes of light and shadow, blocks of rich color, and linear patterns without losing sight of the subject and its context. Williams began these paintings outdoors, directly in front of the subject, over the course of the past three years. He then brought the canvasses to his studio to continue and complete them in 2017 following the logic he already developed from initial observations. There in the studio, the artist painted with the guidance of a memory of each place and the expertise gained from a lifetime of painting.

This is Jim Williams' seventh one-person exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery. Williams received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, followed by study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Barnes Foundation. He received an MFA from the University of Delaware and taught for many years at LaSalle University.