June Kelly Gallery

Philemona Williamson

Gallery artist Philemona Williamson is having her first major museum solo exhibition, Philemona Williamson: Metaphorical Narratives at the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey from September 15, 2017 through January 6, 2018. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an essay by the chief curator Gail Stavitsky.

Hovering Tales, an exhibition of new paintings by Philemona Williamson — visual narratives that intrigue with disquieting depictions of the edginess of imagination and curiosity between adolescence and adulthood - will open at the June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street, on October 13.  The exhibition will remain on view until November 14. 

Williamson says she is an observer of human behavior, and while longtime fascinated with the innocence and wonder of pubescent youth and its inevitable progression toward adulthood, she finds this current culture yields yet a plethora of notions.  

Here, in Hovering Tales, Williamson exhibits her fabled energetic adolescent figures, raw with instinct, in the throes and entanglement of play, in the pause of curiosity or on the precipice of a happening while introducing figures which appear older, assertive, more secure in diverse scenarios, reflecting a solemnity and awareness beyond the immediacy of themselves.

Just as Williamson is not hesitant in depicting vulnerability of the adolescent, she conveys through sobriety of expression and stillness of form, a pensiveness suggestive of grappling with alienation and curiosity, in search of identity amid commonplace tempests in the growth to maturity.

Williamson uses the power of color and symbolism to rouse the psyche in contemplation of her narratives.  According to her storyline, her palettes include bright colors and limitless horizons as well as hues reflecting deeper, darker and more somber consciousness.

 Williamson’s work continues to teeter on the edge of satire and innovation. Her use of signature elements infusing curiosity while providing stratagem to her conundrums is familiar.  Perhaps the white lotus blossoms with Japanese meaning “attaining enlightenment” heightens suggestion of the maturing young girl, which Williamson painted in transparent tones in Unexpected Blues.

Drawing lines remain visible under pigment on her canvas, indicative, Williamson says, of her process in development of the work.  Allowing the drawings to show through is pulling the curtain back on her process same as painting the figure with transparency reveals strength of the subject.

Williamson delves into contemporary themes that mystify and in execution she shifts her narratives often in unexpected ways yet she never fully reveals her thinking.

 Williamson, a native New Yorker, received a bachelor's degree from Bennington College and a master’s degree in painting from New York University.  Among her awards are a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been shown in many one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including the IV Bienal Internacional de Pintura en Cuenca, Ecuador, in 1994.  She is represented in numerous private and public collections, including The Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina; Hampton University Museum, VA; Sheldon Art Museum, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; Smith College of Art, Northampton, MA, and AT&T.

Williamson is having her first major museum solo exhibition, Philemona Williamson: Metaphorical Narratives at the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey from September 15, 2017 through January 6, 2018.  A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an essay by the chief curator Gail Stavitsky.

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