Thursday, March 29, 2018

Skarstedt Gallery - Sue Williams: Paintings 1997-98


How can one make creepy and weird shapes look cute? Sue Williams shows how. She exhibited fourteen marvelous paintings at the gallery, her huge oil and acrylic paintings portray human body parts like tongues, fingers, even male and female's sex organs, abstractly and humorously. The objects she paints distort and twists together, and also sometimes two or three pieces are mixed almost into one. When people think of drawings of organs or other body parts, it is hard to imagine comfortable images, but Sue Williams paintings are.  She creates cute and cartoony works, full of color and self-expression.

One thing that impressed me was how I could feel an environment that was vibrant, powerful, and smooth at the same time. Sue Williams uses many vivid colors that are essential to her dynamic and vibrant environments. This feature is most notable in 'Ring' (1997).  Although more than five different colors are used for 'Ring'. They accentuate objects' features, and do not interrupt the other colors' direction and spot. She also makes lines from thick to thin that makes paintings look dynamic and have movements. Her touch is very delicate and detailed. Her incredible approach about the expression of human’s body parts and sex organs and abstraction make these paintings amazing. This exhibition shows her works' character very well.


  1. I agree that there's a stark contrast between the cartoonish impression of the paintings and the objects that are painted. When looked closely, the paintings become violent, sexual and empowered. They remind me of Cy Twombly's childish strokes, just more organized and controlled. The language of feminism is strong in Sue's works. Looking at these paintings remind me of a quote that Laura Mulvey wrote in one of her essays- women's desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the bleeding wound.

  2. I also very much like the combining of cartoonish and calligraphic elements in these paintings.
    I'm not sure cute is the word I would use, but the cartoonish elements seemed to reference a very specific genre of cartoon although i can't place my finger on it. I would like to hear your thoughts on whether the comfortability of these paintings is a positive or negative.

  3. I agree that there are many vague elements in her works. like a cartoonish way to paint possibly pornographic images. In front of her works, the audience will involuntarily be drawn to the details of the painting, trying to recognize the image in the painting. What impressed me most was her use of color. Colors of different brightness actually guide the viewer to look at the layer with perspective. It also seems to overturn the color theory textbook which teaches us about the relationship between color and content.