How to Make a Brutalist Painting
September 16, 2020 6:56 PM   Subscribe

"When I get to a painting like this (George Floyd), there is so many levels that I am becoming aware of as the painting is unfolding that I somehow have to be able to resonate, through ideas that deal with just the formal apprehension of ideas about repetition or form making or tone or value. Color is meant to sort of jar the viewer. I am making these to get people to stop and look. Painting is so devalued these days and I can’t have that." Employing ‘Outrageous Color,’ Peter Williams Makes Bold Paintings That Confront Racial Oppression and Envision a ‘Black Universe’ (Victoria L. Valentine, Culture Type).
posted by MonkeyToes (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
"Vibrant" is a word overused by the cultural press in my parts, but this is some seriously vibrant and original stuff! I like On the Way the most but they're all pretty amazing.
posted by bertran at 8:22 PM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

That arrest of George Floyd one, damn that's powerful
posted by taquito sunrise at 8:43 PM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I like this a lot. Confrontational play on "brutalist."
posted by rhizome at 11:11 PM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I like this a lot. Confrontational play on "brutalist."

It is, but it's also art that is architecture brutalist-adjacent (ie: relentlessly square buildings in concrete grey) This one with the squareness of the police legs and shoes. Should have made them grey. It is both brutal and brutalist.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:20 AM on September 17, 2020

Oh, his work is amazing. Thanks for posting this.
posted by desuetude at 8:37 AM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes, really thank you. I don't have the words.
posted by allthinky at 11:24 AM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm still thinking about these images the next day. Maybe one way to get at what's going on in them beyond the extraordinary graphic design element, the extremely intense and adroitly deployed color palette and the distressingly plain political context is to focus on the facial expressions of the subjects, especially of the space travelers. They aren't cartoony or stock at all. My main reference for Afro-futurist space travel is George Clinton emerging triumphally from the Mothership to delivery the emancipatory spiritual purgative which is the Funk. But Williams' travelers are something else; they are really exploring, not sure what they are dealing with. Their faces show variously intentness, patience, somewhat wierded-out curiosity, unexpected and hesitant joy. A quiet but consciously applied wakeful openness in exploring the strange depths they are hovering through.

For a while I was thinking they are wearing space helmets for protection because the realms they are exploring are toxic. But while the toxicity of the mundane political environment Williams shows with its porcine police violence and all is clear, I don't see that really in the space traveler paintings like On the Way. Maybe the space realm here is more like the spirit world -- a profoundly wierd realm of truth that the repression and stupidity of our mundane reality can't really access.
posted by bertran at 5:03 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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