AARON WILLIAMS | THRONES AND DOMINIONS
JANUARY 15, 2017 - FEBRUARY 25, 2017
Guest Spot @ THE REINSTITUTE is very pleased to present thrones and dominions, a solo exhibition of recent works by Aaron Williams. This will be the artist’s first time exhibiting with the gallery.
Aaron Williams' exhibition thrones and dominions probes the paradox of socio-political re-contextualization of the art object in a world abetted by populist ideology. A new paradigm surrounds the art practice, forcing an acclimatization of it’s own demise. Williams examines the underpinnings of social economic dialog as heretically challenged, an authentication of abstraction as a mere montage to streamline wealth. The act of reason on principle alone is at odds with cultural production by an augmented conflation of knowledge.
Today, the clash between liberal democracy and finance capitalism calls the monument into question. Inequality has become a symptom of structural shifts, creating a new hierarchy of values that denigrates our semiotic language. Art as alchemy is the reconditioning of the most basic of materials when combined with the power of idea. The purpose of art relies on a the ability to oppose Nihilism or authoritarian populism — yet our current circumstance is derived from computation, the influence of our own algorithm, a reinforcement of prior state.
artist notes: thrones and dominions
One of the main unifying factors of the work is the adjunctive quality most of it derives from. The blue panels take painter's tape as a point of departure, as photographs of digitally altered monuments leave only the pedestal, describing the flawed ideologue they are meant to glorify. Cast off materials from failed projects are used to describe the specific space of my studio and a routered painting focuses on the secondary character, in the case of the Lord Calvert and his Slave portrait. This focus has been a constant in my studio over the years and I find there to be a truth behind the subject matter; less attention given to a strident center often reveals unexpected visual and creative avenues. Attention to the periphery also takes the creative process out of my control a bit, an approach that I find increasingly generative.
I think about my work as existing in the intersection between formal, visual language and a conversation of class and power structures. Often, these approaches are seen to be at odds but I think visual language, particularly abstraction has the capability of carrying political underpinnings. The monument photographs, for example, have a dual meaning: aesthetically, I find the pedestals much more interesting, particularly in relation to modernist abstraction. These monuments are commemorations of flawed ideologies and in a sense, i'm using abstract form to open a discussion about the systems of power they represent.
Considering my own working class background, much of my work includes rudimentary ideas of building and the similarities between the work space and studio that I spend time between. A description of the floor piece, titled 2/ 9/ 2016:
2/ 9/ 2016 is a sculpture based on the workable dimensions of my studio in Ridgewood, NYC. It consists of scrap pieces of plywood, MDF and laminated and painted boards that I've milled into 3" wide floorboards of various lengths to create a shaped footprint of my studio. I grew up installing wood flooring in my family's business and this sculpture is an acknowledgement of that time and of trade work in general. It is also a meditation on the nature of work and of my body moving through a space, whether creatively in the studio or work- related in the shop. The material used to make 2/ 9/ 2016 is a combination of remnants of previous sculptures and panels, as well as old pedestals and failed projects, both from the studio and from my work as a carpenter and picture framer. These cast- offs have outlived their usefulness and exist as liminal piles in my studio. Using this material to describe my studio space is a painterly gesture; one of finding unexpected visual places with which to describe a tangible, measured thing.
Aaron Williams was born and raised in Rhode Island. He holds an undergraduate degree from the Maine College of Art and completed his MFA graduate studies at Rutgers University.
Solo exhibitions in New York include: Max Protetch Gallery, Baumgartner Gallery and Mulherin + Pollard. His most recent solo project was in 2013 with Lamontagne Gallery in Boston, MA. Williams' work has been featured in several group exhibitions throughout the US, including: Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; Storefront Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Garis & Hahn, NY; Memphis Social, Memphis, TN; Hal Bromm Gallery, NY; Howard House, Seattle, WA; Parallel Art Space, Queens, NY and Lu Magnus Gallery, NY. Williams lives and works in Queens, NY.