Maxwell Davidson Gallery is pleased to present William T. Wiley’s Abstractions with Leaky Wicks. This is Wiley’s first exhibition with the gallery, and features new paintings and watercolors. Following his highly acclaimed retrospective What’s It All Mean at The Smithsonian in 2009, and the Berkeley Art Museum in 2010, which garnered national recognition, Wiley has continued to cement his legacy as one of the founding fathers of California Funk. A dance on the line between the absurd and serious, the whimsical and the sinister, the playful and the melancholy, Wiley’s work deftly brings together the comic and the dire.
Wiley’s paintings directly engage and communicate with the viewer through text, abstract graffiti, and the artist’s signature eccentric and introspective imagery. Through his work, Wiley explores largely humanistic themes and critiques of mankind’s abundance of vice and seeming absence of virtues. The “Abstractions”, referred to in the exhibition title, create the basis for his large paintings. Originating as small color fields in front of abstract planes that resemble wood grain, dripping paint, or TV static, the paintings become billboards for the absurd. In his work, Pills, Predator, Abstraction, the abstraction serves as an appropriate background of convolution to the prevalence of prescription medication in today’s society and ongoing war around the world.
While much of the work in Abstractions With Leaky Wicks, communicates Wiley’s witty musings on the state of the world at large, it also presents a distinctive balance between the public and the personal. In his Aegis for L. Johnson, perhaps the most beautiful and haunting work in the exhibition, Wiley grapples with the tragic and disturbing murder American servicewoman, LaVena Johnson. In keeping with all of Wiley’s work, the paintings included in this exhibition present Wiley’s perpetual pursuit of truth and urge the viewer to reflect on morality and life in the present day.
Illustrated catalogue available.