By: Jessica Manchester
Presenting her second solo show with Leo Koenig Inc., Kelli Williams presents “Scala Naturae.” In the words of the artist “made this show to examine the centuries old belief in the Scala Naturae or Great Chain of Being.” Bordering on hetero-eroticized fantasy content and political activist messages, Williams, creates hellish scenes reminiscent Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, specifically the inferno-ish panel of Bosch’s, but with breathtaking colors, unrivaled detail, whimsical components and political undertones.
The stark white gallery and hospital-like lighting create a sterile environment for beautiful yet crude panels creating a stark contrast, however, this contrast allows one to focus on the work and explore the fine detail without being distracted by a busy gallery space. An amalgam of oil on panel fused with ink on paper the effulgence, malleability and chromatic richness achieved by Williams cannot be denied when one gazes at the intensity and tedious level of detail and precision. Pieces like Instruments of The Passion and Oviparous, both of which have ink versions on display, and Wet Bar showcase just how in tune the artist is with her choice in medium. Beautifully rendered statues and architecture at almost microscopic levels are perfectly portrayed, despite not being the immediate subject matter. No less impressive, but of lesser detail, the ink pieces tend to seem less thought-out and more like an expression of chaotic political views combined with a mapping of the scattered nature of her thought process. The most successful of the ink pieces, in my opinion are the ink versions of the oil pieces due to their solid design. Where most of the ink pieces tend to be scattered thoughts images and ideas smattered about on the paper, Instruments of the Passion and Oviparous, as ink versions, have a much more cohesive story line with an actual visual narrative.
Most post-modernist work has become parallel with our society as a whole we have become de-sensitized and seek out stimulation. This typically translates to work that aims to shock the viewer. Pieces like Ass Gas or Grass, by Williams, exemplify this with the use of women shitting, while masturbating or just plain doing their “business.” In Nobody Rides for Free images of G.I.s fucking atop a
Considering that the exhibit only boasts just over a dozen pieces, it gave me the opportunity to thoroughly admire and explore the finely crafted oil pieces and to fully examine the intricacies of the ink. The gallery, in the epicenter of
“Scala Naturae” at Leo Koenig runs through July 3rd
Leo Koenig Gallery
Take the C, E or 1 train to 23rd Street and/or the M23 bus to 11th Avenue
Gallery Hours: Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm
Exhibition Website: www.leokoenig.com/exhibition/view/1898