LOS ANGELES — A well-curated exhibition makes a fantastic art class, and a shining example can be found at Parker Gallery if you hurry over there before the current group show closes on August 6. Nothing Is to Be Done for William T. Wiley is two things at once: a roller derby of irreverent and energetic ideas, and a serious revelation about Northern California’s art historical significance.
The Southern California art scene is generally equated with the West Coast’s contribution to American mid to late 20th-century art, which is to say, deftly whipping the rug out from under New York’s high-minded Minimalism with a brew of conceptualism and humor. Familiar names in this arena include John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, and Ed Ruscha. But there was enormous energy further north in the Bay Area, and a good chunk of it emanated from William T. Wiley, a founder of the funk movement, who taught at UC Davis in the 1960s and died last year.
William T. Wiley @ Hosfelt. The first posthumous exhibition of the artist’s work since he died on April 21 “exceeded all expectations,” wrote Mark Van Proyen. With 13 paintings, mostly monumental in scale, the exhibition felt like a mini-retrospective, “chock-full of polymorphic modalities. In any painting, we might see a fluctuating emphasis between graphic and schematic organizations of space, resting on a precarious balance between imaginary cartography and fanciful description. And if that weren’t enough, the same works also feature a plethora of written notations, many taking the form of puns and phonetic spellings, reflecting on the quagmire of signification.”
SQUARE CYLINDER review
Mark Van Proyen on William T. Wiley
"It exceeds all expectations."
"Real Eye on Change"
Review by John Yao
THE POWER OF PUNS
"He is one of the foremost critics of America’s egotism and unsustainable way of life, expressing his critiques in beautifully and sharply rendered paintings and drawings. He is tenderer and less eruptive than Peter Saul, but his message is just as urgent, disquieting, and necessary to these addled, disjointed,
the rich-get-richer times."
Crown Point Press in the '80s
"...the single most stunning work is a 1982 work by William T. Wiley titled Eerie Grotto-Okina, showing a cartographic landscape dissolving into a pictorial one, articulated in an array of bright kaleidoscopic colors, each applied by a separate woodblock."
Dan Nadel on the art of William T. Wiley
"Among Wiley's earliest graduate students was Bruce Nauman, who arrived in 1964. Nauman embraced Wiley's use of rough, found materials, wordplay, and life-is-art-art-is-life ethos, while Wiley took in Nauman's cerebral, proto-Conceptual approach to what an art object could be, epitomized in the younger artist's untitled fiberglass-and-polyester-resin sculptures."
"Few American visual artists can rightly be called soothsayers. Among those that can, William T. Wiley, 81, stands apart. From the mid-1960s to the present, his paintings and sculptures have laid bare the lies and deceptions behind war, environmental catastrophes, corporate malfeasance, political misdeeds, hyperbolic punditry and, yes, even the sometimes-opaque machinations of the art world."