Reviews, News and Commentary

Mervyn Williams new exhibition of paintings and sculptures

Mervyn Williams, Gold Ascendant

Late Harvest, Mervyn Williams

Paintings and Sculptures Since 2014

Artis Gallery

Until October 5

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Mervyn Williams’s latest exhibition is a bit of a retrospective as well as an exhibition of new work. The paintings in the show are from the period 2014 to 2018 along with a new group of sculptures which span the period 2011 till the present.

His paintings often had something of a mechanistic element, the surfaces of the work so impeccable and precise they appeared to have been produced by a commercial printing process.

In many of these paintings there is an interest in figure-ground movement, using contrasting colours that produce illusionistic three-dimensional space and visual effects on the eye such that they seem to vibrate  and oscillate.

Mervyn Williams, Mayday

Some of the paintings in the exhibition seem to owe much to the work of Bridget Riley such as Mayday  while others are clever inventions of Williams such as Whiplash – Red ($18,000) with its cinematic-like creation of depth. There are also some of his impressive works from the 1990’s such as the glorious Gold Ascendant ($30,000) along with some early wooden construction such as Navigator (18,000) which show an interest in the patterning of wood grain, the use of the found object and construction techniques.

Mervyn Williamsd, Pinchgut

The most interesting part of the exhibition are the sculptures that he has been working on for the last decade. They all look like sculptures for the mechanical age with many of them appearing to have been made using lathes, employing metal fabrication techniques  and laser welding. However as with his paintings the techniques he uses are not apparent or revealed.

While these sculptures are all abstract forms, they subtly reference a range of influences or connections – art historical, natural and man-made. Several of the shapes the artist employs are like mechanical components such as vehicle cam shafts, air conditioning tubing, turbines and ship’s air vents. In all these cases he has taken utilitarian or found objects and transformed them into intriguing and complex creations.

Hot Shot ($7500), a painted fibreboard work looks like a set of discarded sewer pipes joined together while metal coated fibreboard work Sandman seemingly made from metal tubing seems to be modelled on natural forms such as elongated, segmented fingers and thumb and Pinchgut ($10,000) seems to be modelled on a tree truck with its limbs hacked off.

The ghost of Brancusi can be seen in several of the stacked pieces while Diadem ($8000) could be a nod to Christo and the maquette, Seraphim ($4000) one to Naum Gabo.

There are the occasional example of the paintings and sculptures connecting with the knobs on Interloper ($10,500) like the illusionistic buttons in the painting White Out ($26,000).

One of the constants throughout the works both paintings and sculptures is the emphasis on a geometry and structures, both obvious and hidden, an underlying order which the artist brings to his ideas and creations.

Mervyn Williams, Sandman

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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