Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Robert Williams (title unknown)

I came across Robert Williams awhile back and I was pretty blown away by the weird psychedelic style he has in his paintings. His painting have this weird mix of sexuality and comic book story telling that reminds me of Robert Crumb and a meth induced hallucination. He was originally the cover artist for Gun's N Roses Appetite for Destruction, however his contribution was removed due to retailers not wanting to carry a product on their shelves that depicted a woman being raped by a robot.

My attention bounces back and forth between this monster truck and the couple in the front. Your eye finds the scrap yard last, making it the last "panel" on the page.

A couple in their own stupidity have found themselves making a grave mistake of killing an innocent bystander by running a stop sign. The driver's face is cool and emotionless as if he is now concerned about fleeing the scene of a crime while she is hysterical and will never get over the horrendous act and this is reflected in the caricatures above them.

The man is the truck and he seems almost to not be reacting to the life he just took, there isn't an expression of pride or guilt on either the truck or the driver. He is instead slack jammed with his tongue hanging out from the drugs or alcohol he is on trying to maintain control of the vehicle. His mouth on the picture at the bottom feels intentionally hidden much like his eyes behind sunglasses and we notice the truck doesn't have eyes itself. Only tinted windows.

The monster riding in the back is the woman obviously. She plugs every orifice with poison and self inflicted wounds to forget, she has a death wish. The nervous energy around her is reinforced with the ice picks encircling only her and the hairs that almost stab into her body all over. She is thinking of every possibility imaginable in this situation, looking every which way she can wit her seven eyes.

The end result of the crash is the car ends up at the salvage yard, however we don't get to see the actual vehicle maybe meaning the crash was so awful tha nothing survived. This was more impactful than just showing a graveyard of someone, instead we see the scrap yard and the rest of the story is finished in our imagination.

In the foreground we have the first event to transpire which is a moment before taking the life of someone passing by a stop sign. There are 5 dramatic diagonal lines that move from the right to the left of the picture in the foreground. However of the five diagonal lines that start on the right only two are still carried over on the left side. This shows forward motion obviously but it also keeps us from following them right out of the picture. The lines lead us to the action and it feels like a triangle motion. We start at the couple, then the monsters, then the salvage yard before we end up back on the lines and going to the start again.

The next is this broken glass like shape that sits behind them this stands out from its own abstract background, something that symbolizes frantic action exploding at them out of a moment like a bomb. The monsters have further indications of this with their sharp teeth, the ice picks that surround one of our characters, and knifes sticking out of one of them.

The final element of the composition is the salvage yard. This is in stark contrast to everything else in the painting. The only moving element we even get here are the clouds, their shapes are gentle and move across the calm scene we get of a salvage yard. We get the feeling that some time has passed and this last part feels like a resting place for your eyes to end up at after the sharp cutting edges of the rest of the image.

Most of the edges here are smooth outside of seeing some soft gradations of line in some of the smoke the truck kicks up which connects the blue/white background to the monster truck,

The red wavy backdrop is in stark contrast to the bright blue jagged shape we get in the middle. He makes sure to put white edges on this shape to differentiate it even more from the backdrop and it feels like a very graphic element to add. The colors of red and blue meet to find our next color of purple in the front. The colors used to paint the characters feels neutral or mid tone in value. If these colors were brighter or darker it would detract from the painting too much. The green in the women's shirt is found in the green of the monster up above and there is a nice match up between blue and green in the monster truck itself.

He ties these different elements together by putting different colors from the back drop into the other elements of the composition. For example the red stop sign or the "Rio Grande Auto Salvage" Even the colors up here are again the same as we have seen elsewhere in the monsters, truck and skin tone/clothing of the people in the foreground. Our foreground truck is green, an element that is repeated in each part of the composition. Then above that we have yellow, blue and red along the top of the auto salvage building.

The texture on the hair on her body makes the whole image along with the jagged knife like shape of the horrible event that is transpiring makes the whole image feel nervous. This is reinforced again by the jagged hair around her mouth.


Mass plays a huge role in any painting but the shapes here feel like they all tell the story. From a moment of action, to a moment of terror and resting on a peaceful graveyard for our protagonist's hot rod.