Aubrey Williams

Aubrey Williams (8 May 1926 — 17 April 1990) was a Guyanese artist. He was best known for his large, oil-on-canvas paintings, which combine elements of abstract expressionism with forms, images and symbols inspired by the pre-Columbian art of indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Born in Georgetown in British Guiana (now Guyana), Williams began drawing and painting at an early age. He received informal art tutoring from the age of three, and joined the Working Peoples' Art Class at the age of 12. After training as an agronomist he worked as an Agricultural Field Officer for eight years, initially on the sugar plantations of the East Coast and later in the North-West region of the country—an area inhabited primarily by the indigenous Warao people. His time among the Warao had a dramatic impact on his artistic approach, and initiated the complex obsession with pre-Columbian arts and cultures that ran throughout his artistic career.

 Williams left Guyana at the height of the Independence Movement in 1952, and moved to the United Kingdom. Following his first exhibition in London in 1954, he became an increasingly significant figure in the post-war British avant-garde art scene, particularly through his association with Denis Bowen's New Vision Centre Gallery. In 1966, he came together with a group of London-based Caribbean artists and intellectuals to found the Caribbean Artists Movement, which served as a dynamic hub of cultural events and activity until its dissolution in 1972. From 1970 onward, Williams worked in studios in Jamaica and Florida as well as the UK; and it was during this period that he produced three of his most well-known series of paintings: Shostakovich, The Olmec Maya and Now and Cosmos.

 In the early years of his artistic career, from the time he joined the WPAC up until the late 1950s, Williams paintings were primarily figurative. According to Donald Locke, a fellow Guyanese artist who attended the WPAC at the same time as Williams, his paintings during the WPAC were usually of pregnant female nudes, and his colours of choice were typically "pale, whiteish, yellows and browns".When he first moved to London, Williams initially worked with pastels because he could not afford to buy paints. Locke described his work in the mid to late 1950s as "tinged" with a "Cubistic-Naturalism" that was common to young artists in the WPAC.
While living in London and travelling in Europe in the mid-1950s, Williams was introduced to the most recent trends in European and American art through exhibitions at The Tate in London and elsewhere.He was impressed and excited by an exhibition of German expressionist painting in London, and by the work of American abstract expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko.He found a particular affinity with Arshile Gorky — whose work, he said, "fitted in some way with [his] own perception" - and with Roberto Matta.He traced his affinity with Matta to a shared experience of colonialism: "It's the smell of the presence of the conquistadors. It's the smell of a loss, and a replacement of lesser than what was destroyed".These various influences had a significant impact on his artistic development in subsequent years.

From 1959 onward, Williams' work became increasingly abstract and his style was frequently described by art critics as a form of abstract expressionism.[69] While economic factors had originally limited the size of canvas he used, he gradually progressed onto ever-larger canvases, and from 1970 onward also painted a number of large murals. He used glazes and scumbling to create effects with his oil paints. Following a period of self-questioning in the early 1970s, during which Williams worried that he was "only making paintings [...] like making wall furniture", he began to re-introduce figurative elements into his paintings—a stylistic change that is particularly visible in his The Olmec-Maya and Now series.Wikipedia

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