Swamp Thing, 2019

Basel 2019
P.P.O.W
Painting
acrylic, oil and oil stick on canvas
198.1 x 154.9 Size (cm)
78.0 x 61.0 Size (in)
Robin F. Williams (b. 1984) utilizes a variety of techniques, including oil, airbrush, and the staining of raw canvas, to create figurative paintings that are at once puzzling and familiar. Challenging systemic conventions of representation in both art history and commercial advertising, as well as recent market impulses, Williams refers to her women as “zombie nudes” – figures that are sentient, yet ambiguously generated. Confronting the viewer with a crazed, almost terrifying smile, Here’s Betty, 2019, reimagines Richter’s Betty as a grown-up odalisque who survived The Shining. Another recent painting, Swamp Thing, 2019, zooms-in on the mysterious bather from Manet’s iconic Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, revealing a self-pleasuring siren luring the viewer into the apparently toxic biome to which she’s been resigned. Taken together, these works humorously update outdated art historical depictions of women and femininity while simultaneously exemplifying Williams’ technical mastery of a medium long defined by male authorship and female subjection. With three solo exhibitions at P•P•O•W, Williams has garnered critical recognition for her contribution to figurative and feminist painting, noting the complexity of her compositions, technical virtuosity and the psychological depth of her narratives. In her review of Williams' 2017 exhibition Your Good Taste is Showing, Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote: "These painting are timely, but they are also enigmatic, off-putting and out there in rewarding ways.” Williams received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been included in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally. Williams has been honored as the Josephine Mercy Heathcote Fellow at The MacDowell Colony.