Tag Archives: Swim

CHARLES WILLIAMS’ “Day Time” triptych arrives at Morton Fine Art

8 Mar

New oil on panel paints by artist CHARLES WILLIAMS. These new artworks are stunning, and the perfect complement to his “Nighttime” series which were included his September 2015 solo “Swim” at Morton Fine Art, in his traveling museum solo exhibitions, and at Aqua Art Miami.

 

CHARLES WILLIAMS, "Day Time 1", 12"x12", oil on panel

CHARLES WILLIAMS, “Day Time 1″, 12″x12”, oil on panel

 

CHARLES WILLIAMS, "Day Time 2", 12"x12", oil on panel

CHARLES WILLIAMS, “Day Time 2″, 12″x12”, oil on panel

CHARLES WILLIAMS, "Day Time 3", 12"x12", oil on panel

CHARLES WILLIAMS, “Day Time 3″, 12″x12”, oil on panel

 

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

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Video trailer for CHARLES WILLIAMS upcoming exhibition at Central Piedmont Community College

4 Mar

Enjoy this trailer for CHARLES WILLIAMS upcoming solo exhibition at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC

 

 

Click here to view available artwork by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

The Washington City Paper reviews Charles Williams’ ‘Swim’

15 Oct

Arts Desk

Charles Williams’ ‘Swim’ at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

Lost and Found

You can be forgiven if your eye wanders in “Swim,” Charles Williams’ current solo show at Morton Fine Art. Between the clutter of the gallery and the works themselves—closely hung bursts of contrast in black and white—there is a lot to digest. But it’s impossible even for passersby to miss the centerpiece of the exhibition, Lost and Found #1, an immersive six-by-eight-foot canvas depicting frothy waves at night in photorealistic detail. The painting, mostly in black, simultaneously beckons and unnerves. 

Williams’s interest in water as a theme derives from his lifelong fear of swimming. He attributes the phobia both to his experience of nearly drowning at age 11 and to the racial stereotypes surrounding swimming that he faced growing up black in South Carolina. In the handful of fragmented self-portraits on view, Williams, who still doesn’t know how to swim, depicts himself variously in goggles, pool floaties, and wearing a towel draped over his head.

While the towel-as-hoodie is Williams’ most overt reference to the idea of swimming pools as sites of racial tension, race permeates the exhibition in other ways.  In some portraits Williams’ face floats disembodied, fracturing at its edges into individual brushstrokes in black and brown. It’s a literal deconstruction of the artist’s skin color—and the various tones and associations, including fear, that come with it.

The exploration of black is further developed in nearby paintings from theNighttime series, in which Williams has painted waves in a heavy black impasto over backgrounds of the same color. These smaller paintings, as well as the artist’s closely cropped monochrome seascapes on Mylar, deserve a closer look. Unfortunately, the installation gives them little room to breathe. Viewers are better off focusing on the large-scale work; the tide will carry you from there.

“Swim” runs until Oct. 13. 1781 Florida Ave. N.W.

Charles Williams, Lost and Found 1, 72″x 96,” oil on canvas, Courtesy of Morton Fine Art

CHARLES WILLIAMS’ “Swim” reviewed in Washington Post

13 Oct

 

the washington post logo

Museums
In the galleries: No day at the beach

Swim, 30"x30", oil on panel

A self-portrait by Charles Williams in the exhibit “Swim,” at Morton Fine Art. (Courtesy Charles Williams and Morton Fine Art)
By Mark Jenkins October 9 at 11:57 AM
In the self-portraits of “Swim,” Charles Williams presents himself in goggles and other aquatic paraphernalia, his muscles taut and his skin burnished. The South Carolina artist, however, isn’t bragging about his prowess in the water. He actually has a powerful fear of it, in part because of a childhood incident in which he nearly drowned. The three series gathered in this Morton Fine Arts show are quite different, but all address Williams’s fraught relationship with the sea.

The largest works are realistic paintings of yellow sand and frothy surf under night skies. These are based on photos Williams took while wading in the water and experiencing — the show’s catalogue reports — “shallow breaths, a quickened heartbeat and trembling hands.” That anxiety is not conveyed by the pictures, which are calm and precisely rendered, even if the blackness above the water does indicate that this is no day at the beach.

Even darker are the small oils of waves at nighttime, entirely in black. The water’s motion and contours are depicted entirely by line and texture, and visible only when the light hits at a suitable angle. These paintings resemble engravings and bas-relief sculptures.

Although Williams is no impressionist, the self-portraits are a bit looser than his large surf pictures. Most of them are painted on Mylar, which lacks the absorbency of canvas and thus gives a more immediate appearance. Sheer white, apparently representing harsh sunlight, obliterates areas of the image. These ephemeral qualities, however, are countered by the strength of the artist’s features and form. Even when the subject is simply water and air, Williams’s style always feels substantial.

Swim: Charles Williams On view through Oct. 13 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. http://www.mortonfineart.com.

 

Lost and Found 4, 72"x96", oil on mylar

Charles Williams. “Lost and Found 4.” (Courtesy Charles Williams and Morton Fine Art)

Interview with CHARLES WILLIAMS about his solo exhibition “Swim” at Morton Fine Art

24 Sep

Charles Williams Interview Questions

 

Charles Williams, Lost and Found 4, 72"x96", oil on canvas

Charles Williams, Lost and Found 4, 72″x96″, oil on canvas

Inspiration for Concept

 

Q: You have mentioned that not only the experience of something traumatic, but also the way it is handled, can shape a persons identity; how have your fears and your steps to overcome them shaped your personal life and artistic career? 

 

CW: My fear of the water has been both a blessing and a curse. Because of it, I have realized how lucky I am to have survived these accidental drownings. Being aware of my good fortune brings a gratefulness into my everyday living. I also appreciate that my traumatic water experiences have allowed me to become a conduit for others’ fears. I understand fear to be something that is universal. Even if your fear is not drowning or swimming, most everyone has something in their life of which they are afraid. In my art, I explore these ideas of fear in the hopes that others looking at my work will have to confront their own personal fears and realize that hope and overcoming is possible.

 

Q: Was it the traumatic experience of almost drowning that created this fear or was there already something about the deep dark ocean that frighten you as a child? 

 

CW: Growing up, I was always afraid of the dark. There is something about the murky and unknown depths of large bodies of water that evoke that same fear that I experienced as a young boy in a pitch black room. But my accidental drownings certainly created a fear of water that I did not necessarily have. My inability to swim was impacted by the racist dialogue that surrounds swimming the South. Continually hearing that “black people don’t swim” made me aware that there was potentially something wrong with me that would prevent me from swimming.

 

Charles Williams, Nighttime Study 12, 12"x12", oil on panel

Charles Williams, Nighttime Study 12, 12″x12″, oil on panel

 

Q: Did you know how to swim before this incident, do you know how to swim now?  Did this fear of the ocean spread to all large bodies of water like lakes, rivers, pools? 

 

CW: While one of my accidental drownings took place the ocean, the second happened in the deep end of the pool. I would say that my fear extends to all bodies of water that are large enough for me to be submerged in. At this point in time, I still do not know how to swim.

 

Q: Do you find creating the oceanscapes and other related pieces within this body of work to be therapeutic?  It seems as though you are not only in the belly of the beast but you are recreating the beast with every painting, your fear and attraction of the water go hand in hand, as if you are longing for something dangerously beautiful.

 

CW: Yes. The water has human-like qualities to it that are alluring, attractive and calming, but also frightening, intimidating and fear-inducing. With these various components, you have to respect the ocean just like you respect a fellow person.

 

Q: Although images of the ocean are in the forefront, the conversation is more about your relationship with the water than the water itself.  How else are you connecting human emotions to the natural environment? What made you want to tackle this subject matter?  

 

CW: The water is able to provoke in me a variety of emotions ranging from serenity to panic. In every aspect of these paintings’ creation and their display I am thinking of the moment when emotions overwhelming me and seem to engulf me. Despite these emotions taking over me, I refuse to let them define who I am. I want others who look at my work to see that struggle of having emotions engulf you, but not letting it determine who you are.

 

Ultimately I am interested in the idea of a progress, of continually working to overcome and to get better. This idea of progress and of continually getting better is an idea that I have heard since I was a child in my life.

 

Q: It seems that you have used your personal experiences and fears as a stepping off point to discuss a more cultural, psychological dilemma.  What do you want the wider conversation to address and confront? 

 

A: Pejorative race talk surrounds swimming in the South. Having grown up with these stereotypes ringing in my ear, I want my work to at once address the universality of fear and of confronting your fears but also raise awareness of the conversations that we, as southerners, are having about race and swimming.

 

Self Portraits

 

Charles Williams, Self Portrait with Goggles 3, 10"x8", oil on mylar

Charles Williams, Self Portrait with Goggles 3, 10″x8″, oil on mylar

 

Q: What is the meaning of the omissions, parts of your face are missing? 

 

CW: Parts of my face are missing because I am incomplete. The missing piece refers to the missing piece of me. When I go to the beach and see others’ interaction with the water be so organic and genuine, I long to experience the same liberating freedom of just enjoying the water without fear. Until that time, I will feel incomplete.

 

Q: Why did you choose to include certain articles of clothing like the hoodie and goggles? What do they represent? 

 

CW: I like the dichotomy that including these items create. In draping the towel over my head in the paintings I am referencing the hoodie, which in recent years has become associated with gangster-culture and the supposed-danger of black men.  As much as the hoodie has become a symbol of danger, personally it is also an element of comfort. I feel a connection to the character Linus in Charlie Brown who carries a blanket with him for comfort. When I woke up after my accidental drownings I was wrapped in a towel. Growing up, Charlie Brown was a pillar in my life. Throughout my childhood I watched it as often as I could and feel an affinity with Linus.

 

Alternatively, the googles are a symbol of innocence. In choosing to wear them I am referencing the child-like innocence of swimming. Childlike swim gear in general are the tangible items that represent my longing. I long to be in the water, swimming carefree, like the people I see at the beach.

 

Charles Williams painting "Swim"

Charles Williams painting “Swim”

 

Q: It appears that you age and add weight to yourself in some of the self-portraits.  Do you deliberately do this, if so why? Is there a correlation between your past, present and future selves?

 

CW: When I create these portraits, I do so freehand. I don’t use measuring tools such as a grid or ruler. I am painting simply what I see. I want to capture the mood more so than my physical attributes. My skin tone alters slightly in each of the paintings but this is done to enhance the mood I want the painting to convey.

 

Oceanscapes

 

Charles Williams, Day 41 Study, 10"x8", oil on mylar

Charles Williams, Day 41 Study, 10″x8″, oil on mylar

 

Q: How do you source your images?  Do you create these realistic oceanscapes from memory or do you use a camera to capture the images and then recreate them? If you use a camera where are you positioned, on the shore or in the water?

 

CW: I am in the water when I take these images. I typically wade into the ocean until I’m waist height. I have with me a camera and a flashlight. Standing in the water, I take pictures of the ocean swells around me and point the flashlight to illuminate the waves for my camera. Once I am back in the studio, I work from those images. This is part of what makes my art experiential. These works were not created from a daydreamed image, but from my real life experience of going into the ocean. Often times, I am risking my life and mental health to take these images and create this art. But without the true experience of wading and standing in the water that so nearly killed me before, I don’t believe I could convey the same amount of fear that my canvases currently display.

 

Going into the ocean at night, you don’t get perfect shots. The photos are often shaky because of the moving water around me, but also because I am having a panic attack while being in the water. This process and the art that results from conveys the unexpectedness of life.

 

Charles Williams, Unseen I, 8"x8", oil on panel

Charles Williams, Unseen I, 8″x8″, oil on panel

 

Q: Many of your oceanscapes are set at night, does this speak to another fear of the dark?  

 

CW: Yes. Although I am recently painting daytime oceanscapes as well. I am interested in the emotive contrast that the different times of day provoke. Many associate the daytime with safety, there is safety in light.

 

While the oceanscapes are at night, I have a flashlight with me. That flashlight serves as a metaphor for a childhood safety net, a tool for exploring and seeing troubling illusions in the dark – the monster in the closet. Observing the ocean as it exists in darkness with a flashlight allows me to not only study the water at night, but to confront my monster in the dark and subdue the fears that consume me both physically and mentally.

 

Q: Your In Seconds #1- #4, when viewed together appear to speak on the notion that our lives can change in a split second. One second you are safely treading water and the next you are pulled under by a rip tide or strong wave.  Was this your intention?

 

CW: Yes, this was my intention. It also mimics my first accident when I was eleven and I was pulled under by a current. Before I went under, I was jumping waves with my cousin.

 

“Overcoming Depths” Essay on CHARLES WILLIAMS exhibition “Swim”

17 Sep

Overcoming Depths  

By Martina Dodd for Morton Fine Art

Charles Williams’ oceanscapes capture the dangerous beauty of the sea while simultaneously addressing his most personal and private fears.  His large-scale oil paintings of foam covered oceans are dimpled with waves and movement that submerge the viewer under a wave of intensity and serenity.   By actively examining his emotional response to the dark and murky abyss conveyed on canvas, viewers are urged to do the same with their own fears.

With shallow breaths, a quickened heartbeat and trembling hands, Williams, wading waist high in the water, snaps photos of waves as the ocean swells around his body. Once out of the ocean and back in his studio, he works from these images, which are often shaky and imperfect, to recreate them on canvas. The shakiness of the photographs do not take away from his hyperrealist paintings but symbolize his relationship with the sea. Williams recalls always having a fear of the dark, and the unknown depths of the sea seemed to be the darkest place of them all.  This phobia intensified at the age of eleven when he nearly drowned while playing in the ocean with his cousins. By forcing himself to wade in the water, the relived fear of his youth vividly translates through his camera and then again through his paintbrush.

This new body of work for his solo exhibition Swim at Morton Fine Art includes several figurative pieces – literally placing the artist within the artwork.  Unlike his large oceanscape paintings, which are meticulously detailed and based off of actual images, his self-portraits are created freehand and intuitively from his mind’s eye. Releasing himself from the restraints of measuring tools like grids and rulers, Williams’ intent is to capture his state of being rather than his physical attributes. His self-portraits purposefully omit parts of his face and vary in skin tone dependent on his mood. Williams longs to experience what he describes somewhat romantically as, the “liberating freedom of enjoying the water without fear”.  But his anxiety associated with the ocean coupled with the racial rhetoric surrounding swimming in the South has left a profound impact on Williams’ life and art.  

His aesthetically rich paintings span psychological and cultural realms by referencing contemporary and historic events in his life.  As a child Williams was taught that he could do anything he put his mind to, but after Williams’ close call with a watery death, he started to doubt this mantra and began to internalize the stereotypes he heard from his peers claiming that black people could not swim.  Growing up in South Carolina and hearing limiting and oppressive phrases like this led Williams to believe that there was something inherently wrong with him (and those of his complexion)  that prevented him from swimming.  With these thoughts still lingering in his mind, Williams’ work challenges the pejorative talk he once heard in his youth and still occasionally hears in his head today. Both therapeutic in nature and rebellious in spirit, his paintings address the universality of fear and analyze the origins and implications of racially motivated negative stereotypes.

As much as Williams strides to overcome his aquaphobia, his work is still very much based in and derived from his deep seated fear of water and the dark.  Nighttime study, along with his Lost and Found series, depict the ocean as it exists in darkness.   These pieces allow Williams to not only study the water at night, but to confront the monsters hidden under each wave.  In Nighttime Study, Williams represents the waves through texture by making both the ocean and the backdrop black. Akin to being blindfolded and having to read through touch, the waves are distinguishable only by the heavy impasto strokes of his paintbrush. Finding interest in the emotive contrast that different variations of light provoke, Williams uses the natural light of the moon in Lost and Found to reveal the water as it reaches the shore.  With flashlight in tow, Williams provides his own light when needed to explore troubling illusions in the dark.  The light, whether from the moon or his flashlight, serves as a tool of protection helping him subdue the fears that consume him both physically and mentally.

Although his insecurities surrounding the water may seem to overwhelm him and dominate his work, Williams has never allowed the fear to overpower him or dictate his life.  By revealing fear and exploring the idea of painful experiences within his paintings he hopes others will find the inspiration to confront their own personal fears as well.  Like the light that reflects off the ocean, Williams’ near death experiences are reflected off of each of his paintings- divulging his past to discover his future. 

CHARLES WILLIAMS solo exhibition “Swim” debuts at Morton Fine Art 9/25/15

15 Sep
Swim
A solo exhibition of oil paintings by CHARLES WILLIAMS

Friday, September 25th – October 13th, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION 
Friday, September 25th 6pm-8pm
The artist will be in attendance.
Lost and Found 4, 72″x96″, oil on canvas

EXHIBITION LOCATION

Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)

Washington, DC 20009

HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Swim, 30″x30″, oil on panel

 
About Swim
In Swim, his debut solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art, North Carolina based painter, CHARLES WILLIAMS explores deeply personal themes of aquaphobia and stereotypes of swimming and African Americans in the South. Swim expands on his solo Swim : An Artist’s Journey recently on view at The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chaplin Art Museum.
Charles Williams‘ oceanscapes capture the dangerous beauty of the sea while simultaneously addressing his most personal and private fears stemming from nearly drowning at age 11.  To create seascape nocturnes for Swim, Williams forced himself to wade in the water, reliving the profound fear of his youth, to snap photos of waves with trembling hands and quickened heartbeat. Once out of the ocean and back in his studio, he worked from these source images, which are often shaky and imperfect, to recreate them on canvas.
As a child Williams was taught that he could do anything he put his mind to, but after his close call with a watery death, he started to doubt this mantra and began to internalize the stereotypes he heard from his peers claiming that black people could not swim.  Growing up in South Carolina and hearing limiting and oppressive phrases like this led Williams to believe that there was something inherently wrong with him (and those of his complexion) that prevented him from swimming.  In Swim, Williams also explores self portraits, created freehand and intuitively in contrast to his oceanscapes (which are drafted with measuring tools like grids and rulers) with the intent of capturing his state of being rather than his physical attributes.
“How we handle traumatic experiences both shapes and molds our identities. As an artist, I am deeply inspired to humbly respond to those experiences by orchestrating new viewpoints of the fears associated with them – in this case, the fear of water. It is my hope that the psychological and physical elements found in my work, which aim to acknowledge fear as a stepping-off point for overcoming it, elicit hope and compassion in its viewers. These paintings serve as a personal testimony of my decision to begin a journey toward freedom.”
-CHARLES WILLIAMS
About CHARLES WILLIAMS
 
Charles Williams is a contemporary realist painter from Georgetown, South Carolina and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. He is currently earning his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Recent achievements and awards include a Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, featured work in the Artists Magazines 28th Annual Art Competition, honorable mention from Southwest Art Magazines 21 Emerging Under 31 competition, 2012 Winner of the Fine Art Category from Creative Quarterly, 2013 selected artist for 28th Positive Negative juried art exhibition at East Tennessee State University, juror/curated by Michael Ray Charles from PBS Ar21.Williams‘ works has been shown in American Art Collector, Empty Magazine, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand, Studio Visit, Bluecanvas and other national publications. He was recently interviewed and broadcast on ETV/ NPR station, entitled: Nature through the Eyes of an Artist. His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in Washington, DC, New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and several other southeastern states.

 

CHARLES WILLIAMS painting Swim in his North Carolina studio
 
About Morton Fine Art
Founded as an innovative solution to the changing contemporary art market, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that anyone can become an art collector, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of innovative exhibitions and a new generation of art services.
For further information and images, please contact Amy Morton:
Exhibition catalogs available upon request.
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