Enid Williams Boldly Goes
Monday, October 1, 2012
ENID WILLIAMS BOLDLY GOES – Essay
Enid Williams Boldly Goes
By Wim Roefs
Enid Williams’ paintings invariably draw attention from people looking through the if ART Gallery windows, pulling folks of all ages and backgrounds inside.
“It’s like the universe. Space.”
“That must be a lot of work.”
“Does she paint each one by hand?”
“Each one” refers to the circular and oval shapes of different sizes, colors and density or translucency, typically with a hollow center, with which Williams builds her compositions. “As an artist,” she says, “I am interested in slowing the viewer’s gaze by creating an image that requires more careful engagement.”
In 2012, she told an interviewer: “I appreciate any commentary but I enjoy it when viewers draw parallels from other disciplines – science, music or others. My titles often derive from other disciplines as well … I enjoy titles that work on different levels, when possible. The visual and metaphorical implications are more compelling.”
Williams’ paintings are simultaneously grand and detailed, the details never getting lost in the overall composition or obscuring it. The patterns seem as random as they are deliberate, suggesting chaos and chance where there’s clarity and a system – one that develops as the painting takes shape in Williams’ studio. Clearly defined circular shapes dart around in front of fainter ones in the back, grounded, the whole moving every which way without being all over the place.
Williams uses a broad range of colors, especially for the larger paintings, nevertheless achieving great color cohesion while moving the overall pallet from one painting to the next. Each painting’s “white void is very specific,” she said in 2012 of the compositions’ background. “The quiet of that space makes the noise more audible.” The works’ scale shifts between paintings, changing the nature and intensity of their radiating energy. Imploding or exploding, Williams’ paintings boldly go.
“My work is an inquiry into the physical and intellectual process of perception, especially the manner in which we read and understand pictorial space,” Williams says. “I rely on a complex ordering of form and color to create elaborate visual scenarios that appear to be in continual flux. There is little evidence of pictorial hierarchy. Instead, the optical effects create an ambiguous space, both undermining and heightening our desire for logic and order.”
“My vocabulary of small circular shapes is meant to evoke a sense of playfulness, while also reflecting a certain temporality of appearances. In this way, meaning might manifest itself in a sense of time and place.”
Charts that test for colorblindness were the initial inspiration for the paintings. Any writings addressing perceptual phenomena interest Williams. “The broader trajectory of painting’s history is also important and inescapable,” she said in 2012. Referring to Abstract Expressionism, she added: “I embrace the lineage, but my marks are deliberately un-heroic. It’s my tongue-in-cheek commentary on how my work both derives from and stands apart from the particulars of Ab-Ex.”
– Wim Roefs is the owner of if ART Gallery.