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Emmi Whitehorse

Julio Cesar Williams (b. 1979, Oakland, CA) creates abstractions inspired, in part, by a childhood and adolescence spent in California, referencing the all-encompassing nature of the West Coast skies. They are at once macro and micro, noting the expansiveness of California while simultaneously documenting the minutia of his daily life in New York where he currently lives and works.

 

Moving from an earlier style of photorealism, these large-scale pieces with their washes of pigment, layers of floating colors, and ambiguous compositions represent feelings of being “in-between” or in “flux.” In his words, “My life as a poem would be a murky flow of antagonisms. I was born in Oakland but raised in San Diego. I was never enough, not white nor Latin, with no inclination towards either with a sputtering, attenuated Spanish. Keeper of the contradictory, I made sense of proximity and connection, translating and trying to glean something from one context to introduce it to another.”

 

Julio begins with a loose ground of spray paint or air brush. Color combinations are chosen, and frenetic layers are subsequently built. Acrylic paint is diluted with water and high-resin mediums to maintain saturation levels in various levels of translucency. This creates an atmospheric effect where it is hard to decipher where one layer begins and another one ends.

 

Julio works within the legacy of Abstract Expressionism in style and scale yet, “I hope my work resonates particularly with people that have been traditionally underrepresented in abstraction. You start talking about abstraction and everyone seems to think you’re channeling Jackson Pollock. This is, however, not a seance.” Julio’s works are uniquely his own, diaristic explorations of his life, his aspirations and inner turmoil. They are interior expressions, containers, of his emotions and various states of being fraught with all the beautiful complications and ugly nuances of being human. “The world is full of everything but honesty, and particularly now, we long for an era beyond post-truth fictions and distortions. I want to bring beauty into a world that can be bleak and cruel especially to people (like myself) that have experienced histories of trauma and erasure. It’s important to not allow my expression to be flattened into some kind of box of trauma or tokenized identity. Painting allows me to create a dialog with myself about time and it answers questions that I have about desire and loss,” he wrote.

 

Julio’s paintings, with his distinctive mark making, gestures announcing and insisting upon his presence in the world, are incessant reminders of his unique perspective and provide a space for quiet reflection.

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