Now Showing in the Art Gallery: Thomas Willis
November 5, 2012
Opening today in the McGladrey Art Gallery is an installation by artist Thomas Willis titled A Few More Paintings. All are invited to attend the opening reception for the artist on Wednesday, November 7, from 5:00PM-7:00PM. There will be a Q&A session starting at 5:30PM. Light refreshments will be served.
A Few More Paintings
November 5 - December 7, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
5:00PM - 7:00PM, Artist Talk and Q&A at 5:30PM
Thomas began constructing these paintings over two years ago in a studio apartment in Brighton, Massachusetts, a 200 square foot space that housed him, his girlfriend, their dog, and his art studio. The cost of living for this cramped urban dwelling was disproportionately high and he could not afford superfluous items such as
art materials, let alone have the space to store them. Willis’ purchases were limited to household consumer goods such as toiletries and supermarket food, and this is when he began imagining the packaging and advertisements for these goods as the “frames” for his paintings.
The artist took a subtractive and sustainable approach to painting instead of an additive one by recycling structures and concealing their imagery with gesso, a white chalk based pigment commonly used in painting preparation to provide a ground on which pigments are applied. He built up the gesso in multiple layers, then sanded them back to remove any brush strokes. This created an illusionistic depth, conceptually similar to the illusionistic depth of value that material goods signify through aggressive forms of advertising.
This process of art production raised the following questions for Thomas: What are the implications of being a painter in our contemporary American landscape — amidst the visual bombardment of advertising and ocular (as well as material) consumption? Does image-making only perpetuate this self-absorbed consumer culture? Furthermore, can this role be maintained under his current economic constraints? These questions are the foundation for a Few More Paintings.