Your Good Taste is Showing
Robin F. Williams at PPOW Gallery
October 12 - November 11, 2017
Our country recently had an opportunity to elect the first woman President of the United States. Instead, elected was a man who’s tagline was nothing short of an embracement of aggravated assault on women. This aggressive bravado has been around for a long time, yet recently with the more public call for equal rights and gender equality and gender freedom, it seems as though the backlash is poking it’s head out of it’s dark hole further than normal. Robin Williams’ paintings hold an aggressive and confident stance against the roles that have been defined for women in our society. In her paintings there is a great confidence in the deft, and seemingly endless, tactical approach she takes with paint handling. Be it thick paint, airbrush, scumbling, trump l’oil, gradient or the many other skillful and effective ways she applies her paint, the paintings aren't screaming technique but the multilateral approach combines to create a forceful and determined image.
The women in Williams’ paintings find themselves bending, contorting and posing in ways that magnify the inanity of expectations women are held to. In the painting “Your Good Taste Is Showing”, the stylized eroticism of what could be a vintage cigarette ad takes on a Balthusian pose replacing an adolescent with an ‘exotic’ model so determined she is smoking two cigarettes at once.
In ‘Nude Waiting It Out’, a nude blonde waits docile by the side of a window passing the time by making steam drawn lines in the window assumedly counting the days her partner has been gone. The absurdity of the idea of a woman waiting nude for someone to return is so replete with faux desire that the image becomes a tacit mocking of the expectations of a woman’s desire. In other paintings like ‘Burn’, it becomes clear that the figure, who spent far to long tanning resulting in a sunburn that has become rough texture in the painting, is pushing herself to her own death. Looking good is killing her and this is only magnified by the cigarette she’s smoking and the headstone she is awkwardly resting on. There is a real pain and struggle with these figures trying to meet standards of desire, allure and femininity.
In ‘Sunday Player’, a Gaugin-esque woman sits across from the viewer on a picnic blanket in a short skirt revealing the fact she’s not wearing underwear. She holds the cards and the true reveal is that the real game is of seduction, power and desire. Through these skilled and pointed paintings, Williams’ is showing that she holds the upper hand.