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Tverskaya Zhizn, 1997

«Williams – the Columbus follower»


«Next Stop» © 1993

His first and second names are typically American – Frank Williams. The same can be said about his way of smiling even to strangers. He is 50, but about a year ago his family was joined by one more child, that also seems usual for Americans. Like lots of his colleagues in the US he graduated from two American universities, first having a bachelor degree and then a mster degree in fine arts. The fact that Frank participated in 40 exhibitions, 10 of which were individual , is also on his “typical list”, and the last point on this is that anyone can call him just Frank, the simple American way.

Frank’s “untypical list” should start with fact that he is a sculptor, a painter and a graphic artist in one. He cannot be called a realist or sur-realist or an expressionist, but he comes one of them depending on how he envisages the theme that he portrays.

Finally, his living and working in Moscow since 1993 on the grounds that Russia has lately been the theme of his creativity, can hardly be explained as an ordinary event.

This is a brief introduction of Frank as person for the reader. It is lot more difficult to introduce this artist and sculptor to the future observer. At this point author of the article falls into the temptation of acting as an experienced specialist and quoting phrases like “F. Williams’ works can be characterized by their unrestrainable expression and expansion, etc.” But I am a viewer in the first place, and so I am leaving high-flown phrases to the critics. Moreover specialists from Tver now have the opportunity to express their knowledge and opinion both verbally and silently. Frank Williams’ works are displayed in the Exhibition Hall of the Tver Picture Gallery. Tver is the fifth town to get acquainted with name after St.Petersburg, Ivanono, Yaroslavl and Nizhniy Novgorod.

What did the journalist from Tver find during the exhibition in his home town?

The size of the giant wheel is astonishing (2,5 meters in diameter and weighing about 1 ton). The wheel seems motionless, unliftable and unable to make at least a turn. The sculpture is called “The burden That Is Me”.

A pyramid of… potatoes with cutlery as the sides and Repin’s Barge Haulers at the foot of the sculpture and all around it. It is called “Potato Day”.

Each of the 28 canvases constituting the series “Days in Happy Land” are cuttings from the New York Times which from the background for this or that recent actual event, as seen by the artist.

The canvases “Old Look, New Look”, the sculptures “Next Stop”, “Every Day” are just parts of what is displayed at the exhibition. I do not even attempt to share my views and feelings evoked by these works because dwelling on it will take more time and space.

Let me share only one thing. The exhibition has confirmed my personal view that modern art is first and foremost supposed to encourage brain work and only then serve aesthetical purposes. My own assumption is that not only creators, but also viewers should be taught to understand this art; and Frank proved it saying that in the US kids are taught to do so in their first grades.

But what about Russia as the topic of his creations? It is only in one canvas of the mentioned series (the one portraying V. Lenin & G. Zuganov) and may be in the composition “Bomzh” that the Russian theme can easily be recognized “on the spot”. That’s about all.

“And this theme is present in almost each of my works”, - says F. Williams, - “I have lived in Moscow for several years and I am sure that many problems in Russia are problems of whole world. At least there are homeless and unemployed people in the US as well.”

Not all works at the exhibition seemed 100% clear and equally estimated, but everything was interesting because it was only the beginning of acquaintance with modern American fine art. That is why America continued to be discovered.

The exhibition will last until September 7, 1997. The reader has enough time to become the viewer and then – either an opponent or a supporter of the author of the exhibition or the author of these lines. Anyway the time will not be wasted. On the contrary one might need more and more time because each of the 65 works carries the viewer’s attention and cannot be given just a quick glance.

I can only be sure in advance that one of the conclusions the viewer will make, will be that F. Williams’ works are untypical and extraordinary.