Maxwell Davidson Gallery is pleased to present William T. Wiley’s Abstractions with Leaky Wicks. This is Wiley’s first exhibition with the gallery, and features new paintings and watercolors. Following his 2009 retrospective What’s It All Mean? at the Smithsonian and the Berkeley Art Museum, Wiley continues to cement his legacy as one of the founding members of California Funk. His large paintings use abstract graffiti, adroit figurative draftsmanship, and written word to combine the comic and the dire.
Wiley pokes fun at the humankind’s abundance of vice and seeming absence of virtues, from prescription medications to unending wars. The Abstractions referred to are the basis for Wiley’s large paintings. Originating as small color fields in front of abstract planes that resemble wood grain, dripping paint, or TV static, the paintings become billboards for the absurd. Wiley calls out mankind - and those who exploit it – for its negligence, all the while making his finger-wagging seem playful, not didactic.
In Pills, Predator, Abstraction, the “abstraction” serves as an appropriate background of convolution to the prevalence of prescription medication and ongoing war. Despite his grasp of global issues, Wiley is not fixated only on the massive and the faceless. His Aegis for L. Johnson is perhaps his most beautiful and haunting painting. The title refers to a specific incident in the news in which an American servicewoman, LaVena Johnson, was raped and murdered by her fellow soldiers. Few can match Wiley in ability, but no one can match him in wit or wisdom.