Working boats have long captured the imagination of West Tisbury painter Rez Williams. His new exhibit, which opened last weekend at A Gallery in Oak Bluffs and continues through Wednesday, August 21, demonstrates how rich a theme they continue to offer him.
“This show marks somewhat of a departure,” said A Gallery director Tanya Augoustinos. “Every piece tells a different story, and the scale is definitely different.” While the majority of Mr. Williams’s marine paintings have been New Bedford-based, this year he has added New York City shoreline scenes. In “Hudson River Sanitation Building,” the artist sets the painting’s subject far back into the upper right corner, filling the canvas with a wide expanse of dark pilings and muted blue water flats that lead toward the dark skyline and yellow-rimmed sky in the background. It is a remarkably peaceful and romantic depiction of a scene others might have represented as urban blight.
Mr. Williams plays with perspective in many of the works on display. While the massive red bow of “Vanquish” dominates the center of a work of the same name, sections of two other large boats crowd in from the right side. Riding a swatch of open water behind skyline and sky on the left is a small pleasure boat with its wind-filled sails leaning toward the painting’s subject. It is a remarkably sophisticated exercise in scale as well as perspective. The painter has put himself on the sailboat, according to Ms. Augoustinos, an example of how the artist’s sense of humor comes through in his work.
In another variation on perspective, Mr. Williams places the giant white container ship of “Shanghai Highway” far back into the upper right corner of the painting, shrinking in size a vessel that might easily have taken over an entire canvas. This choice allows an abstract dance of green water to take over the foreground and turns upside down conventional notions of seascape. A green hull angles through “Twelve Shots,” allowing the viewer to see bullet holes scattered across the side of the boat. Mock bullet holes festoon the clouds overhead. As Ms. Augoustinos suggests, all of the works on display have dramatically different skies. She anticipates taking work by Mr. Williams and other A Gallery artists to New York City art fairs in the off-season.
Rez Williams: New Works, 10:30 am to 7 pm daily through Wednesday, August 21, A Gallery, 8 Uncas Ave., Oak Bluffs. For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 917-378-0662.