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Ah, Comic-Con International: when comics publishers are tripping over themselves to announce new projects, and movie producers throw star-power at the fans to drum up word-of-mouth support for their latest efforts. Of course, there will be all kinds of lower-profile launches that can tend to get bulldozed off the front pages by the big ticket news items.
Ashley Wood’s 3A Publishing releasing Kent Williams: Ophthalm there is probably a case in point. It’s an art book by a painter whose last major comic project was published in 2005. I’ve loved Williams’ work since he was collaborating with Jon J. Muth in the 1980s, but the work he was producing then doesn’t hold a candle to the canvases he now exhibits. It’s amazing work, as viewable at his website. Wood is quite the advocate for Williams, publishing several portfolios of his work in IDW’s Swallow, then a pocket book of his paintings in their Sparrow series, and recently a collection of drawings through his own Goya imprint. The book’s press release is, however, rather purple. This is the art world we’re dealing with now, people, not comics! And the book’s title? That’s Greek for “the eye.”
Redolent with carnal force and brimming with erotic volatility, Kent Williams’ highly personal approach to “uneasy realism” casts focus on the emotional states and expressive personalities of his subjects. Presented in large 12” x 12” hardcover format, this 160 page volume exhibits numerous drawings culled from Williams’ personal sketchbooks as well as those that served as the basis for this collected selection of his often terse and physiognomically poignant paintings.
”His current paintings and drawings interweave the transitive states of dream and waking made in a heady mix of representational precision and breathlessly animated abstract gestures. Pure and simple, whether manifest as delicately jostled or fluently robust, Williams’ revered strain of para-objective mark-making stages some of the most seductive narrative and formal play generated by any artist at work today.” – From the essay by Alex Ross