Hate it or love it, it’s hard to stay indifferent to Robin F. Williams’ paintings. Often alluding simultaneously to art history and pop culture, her portraits tend to feature striking women that command your attention.
“The paintings are extravagantly in-your-face regarding execution, style, image, and social thrust,” remarked New York Times, chief art-critic Roberta Smith, when describing Williams’ work. “They take aim at the impossible idealizations of women in both art and advertising, depicting mostly nude and aloof androgynous supermodels, and the occasional feline, with a new kind of cool yet visceral bravura.”
Born in 1984 in Columbus, Oahio and now based in Brooklyn, New York, Williams holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating, she has attracted attention across the country, exhibiting both in solo and group exhibitions at PPOW in New York and Various Small Fires in Los Angeles.
Forever pushing the boundaries when it comes to her techniques, her work is cutting edge both in terms of style and execution. “I start with techniques I already have some mastery with, and then they evolve as I try to push them further,” she shared in an interview with Juxtapoz.
“My more recent mixed-media approach generates lots of interesting puzzles,” she admits. “To combine elements successfully, I need a plan. If I am staining raw canvas with acrylic, that has to happen first, then I have to draw my figures, then airbrush, then oil… every edge has to be mapped out in advance.”
According to Williams, this keeps her very engaged with the painting as every stage of the plan has high-stakes moments built-in. But even more than her unique style, it’s her portraits’ faces and expressions that make for a truly striking effect. “I am interested in micro-expressions and how we read each other’s cues,” says Williams.
“There seems to be a lot of illiteracy around body language and not enough acknowledgment that non-verbal cues can be, and sometimes have to be, very complicated. There is often a level of emotional intelligence that is needed to read these cues, and women are bathed in this knowledge.”
Scroll down to see some of her work and follow her on social media for more.