Robert Williams SLANG Aesthetic! & 20 Years Under the Influence of Juxtapoz
Robert Williams is widely upheld as the godfather of the low brow and pop surrealist art movements, and with as much frequency denigrated as an irreverent iconoclast among the arbiters of “high” art. As both patriarch and outlaw, Williams’ enduring influence on the New Contemporary movement is undeniable.
A true maverick who sought to create vital work that channeled the shifting energies and immediacy of counterculture, from the 60’s onward, Williams’ paintings invoked a return to craftsmanship, figuration and demotic imagery that rejected the elitist tenets of conceptual minimalism.
In 1994 Williams founded Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine and created a platform for this young and insurgent energy on the West Coast; a publication that was dedicated to the underground and to its cultural mutineers. Williams, a self described Conceptual Realist, continues to create artworks that elicit a response and offer an opinion.
Relying on concrete, and relatable, imagery to invoke ideas and concepts, rather than on the non-comital spasms of abstraction, his work continues to cut, seethe, confront and move. Not for the faint of heart, Williams speaks an unruly truth that captures the dark, the beautiful and the appalling tenor of our modern world.
SLANG! Aesthetics is Robert Williams’ first major body of work to debut in Los Angeles in well over a decade, and will feature 25 new oil paintings by the artist alongside a suite of drawings, and a series of large-scale sculptures fabricated with the assistance of Gentle Giant Studios.
In conjunction with Williams’ new exhibition of work, 20 Years Under the Influence of Juxtapoz celebrates the publication’s 20th anniversary. It is a group exhibition to commemorate two decades of the magazine’s influential contribution to contemporary art and culture. On view at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and curated by Andrew Hosner of Thinkspace Gallery and Gary Pressman of Copro Gallery, the exhibition features close to one hundred artists who have graced the publication’s pages and website, and showcases the diversity and breadth of the New Contemporary movement Juxtapoz has championed and helped to uphold.
What once began as an alternative magazine, Juxtapoz is now the most widely disseminated art publication in the world. Predicated on the rejection of the artificial boundaries that consecrated “high”, Juxtapoz effectively broke down walls to allow young artists a chance at their own history. It is also an ideal that attests to the power of making accessible art about shared cultural experiences, identities and aesthetics.
The magazine has helped to define and bring to light one of the most exciting art movements of our time, an incipient movement in 1994 that has now, finally 20 years later, begun to infiltrate the mainstream art markets and institutions from which it had once been excluded. It is also a movement with a massive fan following that attests to the power, and relevance, of making accessible art about shared cultural experiences, identities and aesthetics.
The artists featured in this exhibition have been chosen based for their impact on the movement, and on how they themselves have been motivated by such an abundance of inspiration. With access to this imagery and community, new and multifaceted generations of artists continue to emerge from the ranks. Avenues made possible byJuxtapoz, through its wide variety of featured media and expressions, have shaped this aesthetic and preserves its trajectory as far as the imagination will allow.
In 1994 in San Francisco, Robert Williams founded Juxtapoz magazine with Craig Stecyk, Greg Escalante, Eric Swenson and Fausto Vitello with the intent of fostering the art and culture of the underground. Providing an alternative voice and narrative as a counterpart to the dominant New York-centric discourse of contemporary art, it featured artists who straddled “high” and “low” culture. Aligning itself with the aesthetics of contemporary street culture, figurative art, California car culture, gig posters, tattoos, graphics, psychedelia and comics, the publication became a conduit and forum for an entirely new generation of artists who were latching on to the visual vernacular of powerfully populist themes. At a time when representational forms of art were widely disparaged by the reigning critical discourse of the art world, a discourse which championed hyper-conceptual and minimalist dogmas, Juxtapoz provided a mouth piece for the New Contemporary movement.
Fluid rather than prescriptive, this movement has many monikers but is united by an ethos. The expressive possibilities afforded by figurative or representational work came to the fore, and a democratic sensibility was unleashed.
More pics about 20 Years Under the Influence of Juxtapoz here