“My work is concerned with perception, the nature and interpretation of reality. I use subtle modulations of light and shade to create surfaces reminiscent of photography, spatially ambiguous, reflecting some other reality. I seek to re-examine the relationships between what we see and what we know, between empirical fact and deduction, reality and illusion.” (1)
The planes of Mervyn Williams’ paintings protrude, ripple and undulate but the play of light he coerces from his works is full of trickery and illusion. In the tradition of abstract artists such as Mark Rothko and Milan Mrkusich, Williams explores the boundaries of his chosen medium. Unlike these artists however, Williams defies the limits of the flat canvas surface, creating “visual magic…a conjuring up of surrogate realities.” (2) The protrusions and ripples seen in his paintings are compositions of paint and light, existing only in the eye; the mind endeavours to see what is actually present rather than what it expects to see.
Williams was born in Whakatane in 1940 and lives and works in Auckland. He has exhibited regularly in New Zealand since 1966 and is represented in all major public and many private collections in this country as well as in private collections in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia.
1. Mervyn Williams quoted in Michael Dunn, “Contemporary Painting in New Zealand,” Craftsman House, Australia, 1996
2. Warwick Brown, “100 New Zealand Paintings”, Godwit, 1995