SADE LA is pleased to present Fire Season, a solo show by Los Angeles based artist Jessica Williams. Fire Season is Williams’ first solo show with the gallery.
For Fire Season, Williams presents landscapes and portraits of introspection and felt reality; “We know it because we feel it”, Joan Didion once wrote about “fire season” in Los Angeles. In Williams’ paintings, the invisible can be sensed while her subjects oscillate between dream and reality, reverie and surrender, stillness and expectation.
In her painting, Williams explores how atmospheres and architectures can resonate emotionally. Her palette, a phantasmagorical display of muted light and gem-tones, echoes the smog and the glittering reflections on display throughout the city.
Within the perceived architecture of the city, we begin to locate the artist somewhere between what the city supposes itself to be and what it is. In her Orsini series (2016-17), she depicts women in states of private reflection at The Orsini, a vast residential compound at the intersection of two of Los Angeles major arteries, the 101 and 110 Freeways. A fortress of contradictions, the Orsini figures prominently into the local imagination and is known for its imposing scale, faux Italian theme and namesake, which aim to mimic Mediterranean architecture and aesthetics, and, perhaps most famously, for burning to the ground in what was later determined to be arson.
In the same way that the character of “LA” allows itself to stretch and become multiple characters at the same time and occasionally doubling as an image of itself, Williams paints her self into her pictures, appearing sometimes as Saskia van Uylenburgh, wife and muse of 17th century painter Rembrandt and at other times within a fictional scenario within the nearly fictional space of the Orsini.
Recalling the dramatic dreamscapes of El Greco, the moody mysticism of Odilon Redon and the early 20th century scenes of Jewish folklore by Marc Chagall, Williams explores themes of solitude and the feminine. Painted with a studied ease and a pervasive malaise, her subjects gaze off past the viewer with expressions of longing. Her works are inspired by an attitude of reckless abandon and the willingness of a painting to go in pursuit of where it need while nearly abandoning itself in the process.
While navigating a shape-shifting city containing within itself a multitude of stories and simultaneously participating in narratives of its own, we consider the possibility of multiples, doubling and tripling; beyond hope, doubt, and melancholia, towards a more transcendent and collapsed synchronicity.
Jessica Williams (b 1983 Los Angeles, California), lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She received her BFA in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 as well as an MFA in Painting from Columbia University in 2008. Fire Season will be the artist’s 6th solo show.
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