Installation view, Sue Williams, Galerie Hauser & Wirth & Presenhuber, Zurich, 2002
The New York-based American artist Sue Williams (b. 1954) remains true to her own principles, as she demonstrates in her most recent work. While seemingly dissolving form into abstraction, she uses gestural brushwork on monochrome grounds to create bodily presences based on the shapes of human extremities.
It is fascinating to observe the changes that have occurred in Sue Williams’s work over the years. In the large-scale drawings of the 1980s reminiscent of comic books and graffiti, she covered the picture surface with a texture of lines that appeared abstract at first glance, but on a closer look revealed itself to be a fantastic, witty and chaotic mix of sexual attributes. This sexual component of her work misled many critics into interpreting her work exclusively in a sexual perspective. Sue Williams’s own comment on this view in the New York Times was: “It’s not erotic-sexual, but anti-erotic.”
In more recent years, Sue Williams has developed her work towards abstraction. Vigorous brushstrokes in bright colors break into wide white space, which, though otherwise empty, remains filled with the energy of the expressive brushwork. Powerful lines, confetti-like points of red, yellow and blue, lines reminiscent of calligraphies [sl1]vibrate through her large-scale paintings. This impression of movement in Sue Williams’s pictures corresponds to her working method: an acrylic ground on the canvas makes it possible for her to intervene in the process at any point and make modifications.
The works of Sue Williams in our exhibition have been specially created for this show. They are marked by an aesthetic that is reduced to the essential, and their effect is reinforced by the simple presentation. Thus, the expressive gesture makes an immediate connection with the artist’s emotional and imaginary worlds that are the sources on which the artist draws for her play on form.
Sue Williams is represented in most major collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. Most recently, her work was included in the “Birth of the Cool” show at the Kunsthaus Zurich and was shown at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. It will be presented at the Wiener Secession in Vienna in autumn, from 21 November 2002.