Kent Williams has built up a formidable reputation as a powerful contemporary figurative painter. His is a bold realism with combined attributes of abstraction and neo-expressionistic sensibilities. His work is characterized by strong gestural forms combined with areas of arresting detail, rendered with rich dynamic brushwork.
Williams’ approach to his subjects is often subjective and intense. Whether through multi-figured compositional complexity and suggestive narrative, or with the straight-forward lone human form, there is often autobiographical narrative at play. Favorite models, friends, and the artist himself all play a role in the human story of his paintings.
Williams’ work has been the subject of multiple solo exhibitions, including shows in New York City, Berlin, Germany, Santa Fe, NM, San Francisco, CA, Sundance, UT, The Duke Museum of Art, Durham, NC, and in Los Angeles, CA. His painting, TRACE DOUBLE-PORTRAIT, was exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC as part of THE OUTWIN BOOCHEVER 2006 PORTRAIT EXHIBITION. His work is collected both in the US and abroad, and is included in the collections of Robin Williams, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Darren Aronofsky, Alex O’Loughlin, and Meg White.
A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York, Williams, a consummate draftsman and painter, has realized his work through various other artistic channels as well; that of the illustrated word and the graphic novel (including THE FOUNTAIN with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky), printmaking, photography, design, architecture, and film. Monographs of his work include KENT WILLIAMS, AMALGAM: PAINTINGS & DRAWINGS, 1992-2007, and most recently KENT WILLIAMS: EKLEKTIKOS. Williams is the recipient of a number of awards for his work including The Yellow Kid; Lucca, Italy’s prestigious comics award. In 2001 he was invited to be a fellow at the Sundance Filmmakers Lab in Sundance, UT.
Williams returned as a visiting instructor to The Pratt Institute, and has since gone on to teach at The California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA; East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, and The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, CA. He currently teaches contemporary figurative painting at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and is Mentor Faculty at Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA as part of the MFA program.
Williams lives in Los Angeles. He has two sons, Kerig Sun and Ian Kai.
Photograph by Allan Amato