And the Wolf (2019, watercolour on paper)

This brooding work steps away from her recent Abstract Expressionist themes to explore her feminist influences. Williams situates herself here not just in an artistic tradition but explicitly within a female one, in the work’s clear allusion both to the spare yet energetic, fraying lines and the passionate social engagement of Nancy Spero, but also in Spero’s own acknowledgement of her female artistic influences via her 1990s works in homage to Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. The young artist thus appear, matryoshka-like, both contained within and containing her artistic ‘mother’ and ‘grandmother’ figures.

But all is not well in the world of this Russian doll: the title refers to Prokofiev’s powerful orchestral fairy tale Peter and the Wolf, a seemingly innocuous children’s fairy tale that yet carries menacing hints of the Soviet police state and climate of fear in which it was created. In And The Wolf, toothed figures seem to loom out of a chaos of dark red-brown thick with predatory intent and the question thus emerges: is the matrilineal dream an escape from, or simply a vector for the perpetration of, our all too human world of politics and violence?

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