Justin Williams
9 rue des Cascades, Paris

X

Justin Williams, Apricot, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 190 x 150 cm

At first sight, there can be seen an overall dark, saturated harmony with hieratical characters standing back against sleepy settings. They are large, because most of them exceed their format. Their flesh is impalpable; they are statue-like characters, with fixed poses. Laid out like silent actors on a theatre set, waiting for the director to ask them to play. As if they were shifting from one picture to another, changing costumes, positions and places. They seem to be subservient to the painter’s decisions. Behind them, perspective-free landscapes line up. A dark forest, a dark sea, a dark sky, an ill-lit interior. The characters and places are parts of the construction of this painting. They are juxtaposed. And do not communicate. Seemingly unaffected by what surrounds them. Undetermined by any markers of time.

There is Sassafras, a town to the north of Melbourne, where cliffs stand alongside verdant vegetation, and where Justin Williams spent some of his childhood. A town at the antipodes of the stereotypical visions of Australia, being damp, enclosed and invaded by arborescent ivy.

There was also a childhood split between his comrades’ virile suggestions and an attraction towards art, an Egyptian heritage which he could have done without, so as not to seem too different, and emblematic characters, escaping from standard lifestyles, which are less fascinating than they are scary, marking us for all our lives and emerging from each painting.

Finally, there is an attempt at destroying what has just been done: after painting, and as though no one needed to see another oil painting, Justin Williams sets about erasing and scraping away the layers. This is for him a radical attempt to test his painting’s validity. What remains on the canvas becomes full of meaning and harmony. It is thanks to this erasure that the previously extremely slight connections between the various parts of the picture come to light.

Justin Williams places in a subtle, personal, pictorial balance what he has retained from time, from memory and space.

A première vue, il y a, dans une harmonie générale sombre et saturée des personnages hiératiques faisant dos à des décors somnolents. Grands, car pour la plupart, ils nous dépassent par leur format. Leur chair est impalpable; ce sont des personnages statufiés, aux poses figées. Disposés comme des acteurs muets dans un décor de théâtre, attendant que le metteur en scène donne l’ordre de jouer. Comme s’ils passaient d’un tableau à l’autre, changeant de costume, de position, et de lieu. Ils semblent être asservis aux décisions du peintre. Derrière eux, des paysages sans perspective se succèdent. Une forêt sombre, une mer sombre, un ciel sombre, un intérieur peu lumineux. Les personnages et les lieux sont des éléments de construction dans cette peinture, ils se juxtaposent. N’entrent pas en communication. Ne semblent pas affectés par ce qui les entoure. Ne sont déterminés par aucun marqueur temporel.

Il y a Sassafras, une ville au Nord de Melbourne, où les falaises côtoient une végétation abondante, où Justin Williams a passé une partie de son enfance. Une ville aux antipodes des représentations stéréotypées de l’Australie, humide, encaissée, envahie de fougères arborescentes.

Il y a aussi une enfance tiraillée entre les velléités viriles des amis et l’attirance pour l’art, une ascendance égyptienne dont on se passerait bien pour ne pas être trop différent, et des personnages emblématiques, échappant aux modes de vie standard, qui fascinent autant qu’ils effraient, qui marquent pour la vie et qui ressurgissent dans chaque peinture.

Il y a enfin la tentative de destruction de ce qui vient d’être fait: après la peinture, et comme si personne n’avait besoin de voir une nouvelle peinture à l’huile, Justin Williams s’applique à effacer, à gratter les couches. C’est pour lui une tentative, radicale, de tester la validité de sa peinture. Ce qui reste sur la toile se charge en signification, en harmonie. C’est par cet effacement que se mettent en place les liens entre les différents plans du tableau, jusque-là si ténus.

Justin Williams fait reposer par un équilibre pictural subtil et personnel ce qu’il retient du temps, de la mémoire et de l’espace.

FR : At first sight, there can be seen an overall dark, saturated harmony with hieratical characters standing back against sleepy settings. They are large, because most of them exceed their format. Their flesh is impalpable; they are statue-like characters, with fixed poses. Laid out like silent actors on a theatre set, ...
EN: A première vue, il y a, dans une harmonie générale sombre et saturée des personnages hiératiques faisant dos à des décors somnolents. Grands, car pour la plupart, ils nous dépassent par leur format. Leur chair est impalpable; ce sont des personnages statufiés, aux poses fig...
Read more…

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Justin Williams, She had a list of names, it showed only one of her talents. We will build a coffin for a lost tooth., 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 190 × 230 cm

Justin Williams, She had a list of names, it showed only one of her talents. We will build a coffin for a lost tooth., 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, She had a list of names, it showed only one of her talents. We will build a coffin for a lost tooth., 2022 (detail)

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Justin Williams, Future self-portrait, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 78 × 66 cm

Justin Williams, Future self-portrait, 2022 (detail)

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Justin Williams, Viridian led light - Sassafras Creek Road, 2022
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 190 × 180 cm

Justin Williams, Viridian led light - Sassafras Creek Road, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Viridian led light - Sassafras Creek Road, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Apricot, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 190 x 150 cm

Justin Williams, Apricot, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Apricot, 2022 (detail)

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Justin Williams, Blue red green yellow boat and flower, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 190 x 200 cm

Justin Williams, Blue red green yellow boat and flower, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Blue red green yellow boat and flower, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Blue red green yellow boat and flower, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Friday night after the Fish cafe, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas 78 × 66 cm

Justin Williams, Friday night after the Fish cafe, 2022 (detail)

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Exhibition view, Justin Williams, Crèvecœur, Paris, 2022.

Justin Williams, Distantly close, 2022
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 78 × 66 cm

Justin Williams, Distantly close, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Disaster at the dispensary, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 60 × 50 cm

Justin Williams, Disaster at the dispensary, 2022 (detail)

Justin Williams, Sassafras Creek Road, 2022 
Oil, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 50 × 30 cm

Justin Williams, Sassafras Creek Road, 2022 (detail)





Exhibition views; Viridian led light - Sassafras Creek Road, 2022 (detail); Apricot, 2022 — Photo : Martin Argyroglo
Work views & details — Photo : Aurélien Mole