Kent Williams TAKES OVER Beautiful Bizarre Socials

Every month we choose one of our favourite creatives to TAKE OVER Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s social media for the day. In July, we chose Kent Williams to share some of the artists who have inspired him and his practice.

Just in case you missed it, below we present the full TAKE OVER below.

Kent Williams: Sea Foam
Kent Williams: Sea Foam (2012-13). Oil on canvas. 68 x 86 in. (173 x 218 cm).
Kent Williams: Sea Foam (Study, 2012)
Kent Williams: Sea Foam (Study, 2012). Pencil, charcoal, gouache on paper. 24 x 18 in. (61 x 46 cm).

Having to nail down a personal favorite work of mine is not an easy task. I’m certainly not suggesting that they’re all my favorite – not by a long shot, but certain works speak back to me in a variety of ways. I could easily pick out several that come the closest to doing what I want my paintings to do; language, palette, subject, meaning, the strength of drawing, how it may speak to others, all coming together in a personally satisfying way. 

In choosing ‘Sea Foam’ out of these several, how it may speak to others is the reason I’m selecting this one. I should, or at least feel I need to, factor that into making the choice for my Take Over. Out of my several choices, I feel ‘Sea Foam’ has gotten the most response from my audience. At the start of a new piece, I paint exactly what my heart is thriving to explore. Sometimes it ends up being something that my audience embraces, as well. ‘Sea Foam’ seems to be one that speaks most broadly.

Stripped down, taking apart all aspects that define a work, it’s the drawing that is most important for me. Even with the suggestion of ambiguity and abstraction, and fleshy full-bodied paint that often plays a large role in the making of my work, if it’s working, it’s from the underlying soundness of the piece – the drawing, that makes it so. And it’s the drawing that adds the largest part of the personal language or voice to the work.

Egon Schiele: Two Reclining Nude Girls (1914)
Egon Schiele: Two Reclining Nude Girls (1914). Pencil on paper. 121/4 x 181/8 in. (31 x 46.5 cm).

Egon Schiele // “Two Reclining Nude Girls”

My passion for Egon Schiele’s work has not wavered since I was first introduced to it during my freshman year in college. Though his work includes still-lives and landscapes, it’s his uncompromising, intense, immediate and direct observational depiction of the often lone human figure that he is best known for. His was an unapologetic personal expression of the body-erotic.
Part naturalistic, part personal interpretation, his work is rich and expressive, without any need of fanciful decoration or ostentatious artifice. His clean, clear contour lines executed with clinical observation, without the need of fuddling around with sketching or axis, block and square construction ghosting, defines most clearly to me the essence of craftsmanship, or simply put, is drawing.

Pablo Picasso: The Two Friends (1904)
Pablo Picasso: The Two Friends (1904). Gouache on paper. 211/2 x 15 in. (55 x 38 cm).

Pablo Picasso // “The Two Friends”

I don’t think Picasso needs much of an introduction. He’s one of art history’s most pioneering artists who ushered in the art of the 20th Century. He may have single-handedly introduced the idea of artists having “periods” of work, and he’s certainly one of my favorites – primarily his Blue and Rose Periods. To choose my favorite from his body of work was really impossible, so I almost randomly picked ‘The Two Friends’. Like my previous choice of Egon Schiele, and like many of Picasso’s works throughout his creative life, this piece touches upon the erotic, as well.

Characterized by a distinctive depth and emotional power, like a lot of the works from these periods, ‘The Two Friend’ shows the artist’s sensitive side. It’s a nuanced example of his work and personality. This piece reflects the influence of Toulouse-Lautrec, another one of my favorites, as well.

Like Schiele, Picasso’s ability to pair his work down to the essentials – while still being painterly – but defined by the use of clear and direct contours, seems to be a quality I’m attracted to.

Paul Gauguin: The Spirit of the Dead Watching (1892)
Paul Gauguin: The Spirit of the Dead Watching (1892). Oil on burlap mounted on canvas. 281/2 x 363/8 in. (72.4 x 92.4 cm).

Paul Gaugain // “The Spirit of the Dead Watching”

It’s the deeply rich, organic coloration of Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings that defines his work for me and sets him apart from other painters of his time. I wouldn’t say his palette is naturalistic, but instead, his use of color exaggerates the subject’s environment, enriching the emotive concerns or mood of his subject.

I especially respond to his compositional sensibilities – the arrangement of figures and elements within their surroundings – in a way, superimposing an image on image on the environment – a dramatic stage-like characteristic. This quality has informed so much of my own works.

It’s Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings that show him at his height of artistic maturity.

Auguste Rodin: Iris, Messenger of the Gods (1895)
Auguste Rodin: Iris, Messenger of the Gods (1895). Bronze, 32 x 21 x 243/4 in. (82.7 x 69 x 63 cm).

Auguste Rodin // “Iris, Messenger of the Gods”

Rodin. Rodin. Rodin. The immediacy of this piece, ‘Iris’ is pure emotional expressiveness, capturing lifelike vigor, and fervidly embodying the human condition. Its unabashed frankness has an immediate impact that goes beyond Eros.

His work is both classic and romantic, and was revolutionary to the world of sculpture. Like a large number of his works, the suggested aspects or simply non-existent parts of the figure, juxtaposed against the viscerally observational accuracy of the developed parts, create a spontaneity and kinetic tension that I so much admire, and which certainly has informed much of my own works.

Willem De Kooning: Montauk 1 (1969)
Willem De Kooning: Montauk 1 (1969). Oil on canvas. 88 x 77 in. (223.5 x 195.6 cm).

Willem de Kooning // “Montauk 1”

No other artist has played as important of a role in my mature artistic development as Willem de Kooning, and more specifically his works of the Figure in a Landscape group, especially the Montauk paintings. In these works, de Kooning more completely deconstructs the figure or subject into a slippery and painterly surface. Fluid and gestural, the composition is a new model of pictorial space, with a palette that shifts from one complementary color to another, richly pastoral, and vibrating with emotive fervor. The quality is obviously different from the breakdown of figuration and abstraction in the 1940s, where line played a decisive role in defining the various elements.

Andrew Wyeth: Night Shadow (1979)
Andrew Wyeth: Night Shadow (1979). Drybrush. 195/8 x 253/8 in. (48 x 63.5 cm).

Andrew Wyth // “Night Shadow”

In my teenage years, three artists played a major role in my idea of picture-making. Three artists that moved me emotionally, and upon viewing (in print) pushed me enthusiastically forward to pursue the arts. One was Francis Bacon, whose painting ‘Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X’, I first saw in the pages of my family’s set of The World Book Encyclopedia as an example under the heading of “Painting.”

The second was Andrew Wyeth. My elderly neighbor, knowing that I was interested in art, loaned me a book about his work. It was totally a new world to me, and I quickly found myself happily lost amongst the drawings and paintings represented in the monograph. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when my neighbor, a few weeks later, kindly asked for the return of his book.

The third artist who impacted me was…

Frank Frazetta: Night Winds (1978). Oil on canvas board.
Frank Frazetta: Night Winds (1978). Oil on canvas board.

Franz Frazetta // “Night Winds”

Last, but certainly not least, for my Beautiful Bizarre Take Over, I can’t get away without listing my main unrelenting influence during my teenage years. I came across a tiny, probably two-by-three-inch advertisement in a magazine for a book about an artist named Frazetta. I knew nothing of him, but from the powerful impression of that tiny reproduction, I ordered the book. Some six weeks later, the book finally showed up in the mail shortly after I arrived home from school. I can remember to this day, the place I was sitting on my living room floor, the quality of light coming in from the window, as I poured over page after page of this magnificent thing before me printed on paper. I could feel the blood rushing through my veins, the pent-up passion swirling in my head. From this seemingly small event, the world opened up to me.

It was the power of his highly personalized language, sheathed around his solid-to-the-core draftsmanship that made Frazetta stand heads above all others in his genre. That genre, for the most part, no longer interests me, but to this day, when I come face to face with his work, I can still feel that surge of adrenaline rapping at my heart.

This was the last piece chosen by Kent Williams for his TAKE OVER. Thank you again Kent, we really appreciate you taking the time to put this day together.

Kent Williams Social Media Accounts

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