According to Ken Johnson in the NY Times, Kelli Williams, who paints images of naked women in pornographic poses, has big philosophical ambitions, but when she juxtaposes drawings of sexy women in see-through burqas with oil derricks and military machinery, the images are just too obvious. “Ms. Williams is more compelling as an erotic fantasist than as an ideologue. A painting called ‘Oviparous,’ in which we look down on a voluptuous nude in purple fishnet stockings who has vividly patterned snakes crawling all over and around her, has the mythic resonance of D. H. Lawrence. More economical is a painting of a combination lounge and swimming pool with mermaids lolling underwater and a priapic demigod with a trident tending bar. Extending the fascination are finely rendered elements of architecture, furniture, decorative patterning and objects like the inflated ring floating on the pool’s surface.
“In a written statement, Ms. Williams describes her enterprise as a subversion of universalist monotheism, ‘a malicious, antitheistic attack on social and natural order and prostration to higher powers and collective identities as well as an examination of the clash of belief systems and the anxiety underlying teleology and classification.’ That is a heavy load for her delicate paintings to bear, but it may be an indicator of what many frustrated, liberal-minded Western artists are thinking in a world vexed by multiple forms of militant fundamentalism.”
“Kelli Williams: Scala Naturae,” Leo Koenig, New York, NY. Through July 3, 2010.