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The Times, 1980

«Macabre Sculptures Of Awesome Skill»


«Transition» © 1977-80

Frank Williams ought by rights to be connected with Bienville Gallery, since, like most of the work shown at that offbeat art outlet, his life-sized figural sculptures are ghoulish and macabre.

For inventiveness, however, and for awesome technical skill, Williams’ art easily outclasses that normally shown at Bienville, and at most of other galleries in the Crescent City as well.

Williams creates the figures in his sculptures by first modeling them clay, then making molds and finally casting them in polyester resin. Convincing in an anatomical sense, the figures become disturbingly true-to-life when Williams adds glass eyes and actual body hair. Many of the figures are shown dying or dead, often with discolored tongues protruding from their throats.

Besides figures, Williams’ sculptures involve objects like furniture, dishes, bones, feathers and shells. These are combined with the figures in tableaux that, beyond being merely grisly, have an allegorical message or point.

The largest and most thematically accessible of Williams’ works is called “Transition,” and is suspended from a hook in the gallery ceiling. Affixed to the ceiling is a circular plastic element with lips, strongly suggestive of a female sex organ. Emerging from this is a huge and cruel-looking steel hook, from which is suspended a sallow male figure in a furry cocoon. The cocoon terminates in a down-reaching arm, below which is a circular reflective pool, ringed with Medusa faces, on the gallery floor. The symbolism is of a passage from the security of the womb to the threatening mysteries of adult life and the ultimate certainty of demise.

All of Williams’ sculptures address big, life-death issues of this variety, in a guttouching and always effective style. Viewers can expect to be profoundly moved by this exhibit – but leave the kiddies at home.

By Roger Green