Robert Williams, the influential champion of “lowbrow” and counterculture art, known for his cartoon-esque surreal mindscapes of monsters, mutants, guts, babes, and all things kitschy and sci-fi, is bringing a new exhibition and a series of special events to Westchester.
Through Prehensile Eyes, an exhibit of paintings, drawings and hot rods by Williams, opens with a book signing of a newly released book of Williams’ works, Through Prehensile Eyes: Seeing the Art of Robt. Williams at 6 p.m. in the Otis College of Art + Design Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester. A reception is planned from 7 to 11 p.m. with live music by Miss Derringer.
A master painting workshop taught by Williams is being offered from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays, from June 5th to 26th, at Otis.
Workshop registration, (310) 665-6850.
Also, Williams will give an art lecture at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 17th, in the Otis College of Art + Design Ahmanson Hall. Admission is free, but advance reservations are required.
Williams first began working with famed hot rod artist and “Kustom Kulture” progenitor Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the 1960s. Williams was also a member of the legendary Zap! collective with R. Crumb, a group that spawned the modern underground comic scene.
He continues to influence generations of artists with his work, and with the creation of Juxtapoz magazine, a popular magazine dedicated to art that was shunned by the fine art world. Williams paints in a surreal narrative style, with heavy evidence of his background in the 1960s counterculture “comix” scene.
Williams’ paintings are “provocative, intense and challenging, as well as intelligent, complicated, and sophisticated,” says a Bolsky Gallery spokesperson. Throughout, his career Williams has had contempt for the high art world and those he feels would prejudicially define good and bad art.
“What it boils down to is, we’re manipulated by a priestly elite of cultural directors in the art world that’s telling us what is and isn’t art,” Williams has said.
Although he made his name as an art world iconoclast, ironically, now Williams is one of the more hotly collected artists in the United States, commanding tens of thousands of dollars per painting with a long list of potential buyers on the art gallery scene, according to Fantagraphic Books, a publisher that has worked with Williams.
A big part of Williams’ complaint against the fine art world is its movement away from what he calls a “graphic language,” a world where skilled painters are regarded as lesser talents than minimalist and conceptualist artists.
The exhibition at Otis features approximately 45 paintings from 1979 to the present, with related sketches and ephemera, and two of his custom hot rods.
The exhibit is the first solo show by Williams within the City of Los Angeles in ten years.
Information, (310) 665-6905.