"Naked" from the "Red Box" series, Giclee print on Rives de Lin paper, 14 x 20", 1996.

"Kerb" from the "Red Box" series, Giclee print on Rives de Lin paper, 14 x 20", 1996.

"Boxcar" from the "Red Box" series, Giclee print on Rives de Lin paper, 14 x 20", 1996.

"Frame" "Naked" from the "Red Box" series, Giclee print on Rives de Lin paper, 14 x 20", 1996.

by John O'Brien

(Kiyo Higashi Gallery, West Hollywood) Guy Williams is best known for his delicate and poetic constructions of assembled pieces of cork, wood and bark, for his painted paper cut-outs, and for his photographs. With the new work in The Red Box, he continues to explore the poetic juxtaposition of images and the creation of colored textures. This time, however, he generates the imagery by means of computer technology. The source material is scanned into a Macintosh computer, where it is elaborated digitally and then printed out on archival paper.

In The Red Box there are actually three boxes: Red, Yellow and Blue. Each box is a suite of color inkjet prints, culled from original photographs, drawings and paintings. Thematically, the connection between the images in each separate suite is quite loose. The photographs from which he works are drawn from a large number of sources. There are isolated particulars of railroad boxcars, signage, storefronts, torn posters, architectural details, elements from landscapes and cityscapes and occasional diagrammatic markings. The pictorial surfaces and gestural markings are also extrapolated from their original configurations . The artist then incorporates what he wants.

Williams' visual research has typically worked with the elliptical strengths of a fragmentary discourse, one to which the viewer is encouraged to give closure. The same is true for these prints. The surfaces of the boxcars, storefronts and architecture are extracted from their usual context and explored as color field and texture. The relative familiarity of things is suspended in the decontextualizing abstraction of close-ups, electronic mediation and soft focus.

Formally, the primary unifying link here is the predominance of one of the three primary colors throughout all the prints in a suite. Since the formal bond between the images is established by the relationship between the hues of red, blue and yellow, it is in scrutinizing these details that you can see the advantage he takes of using a single color and its multiple hues.

Another important formal device is the subdivision of the prints into two symmetrical square areas. Generally, on the left side there is a larger image and on the right a smaller detail set into a single colored field. Throughout are these rather beautiful color fields and a minute build-up of printed textures. In some of the prints there is the kind of textural quality that one might obtain from a particularly fine lithographic stone.

The Red Box, The Yellow Box, and The Blue Box each hold ten prints. You can view each as a traditional print portfolio or else handle them in select groups. In the gallery, in fact, The Red Box is displayed in its entirety while the other two Boxes need to be viewed like a book, one plate after another. This oscillation between a more intimate kind of viewing and a more public sort relate Williams' work back to the tradition of fine arts printing and publishing. There are also on exhibit selected matrixes which have been printed out by an Iris inkjet in a larger format. They retain a higher degree of fidelity to the photographic origins of the scanned image, but lose some of the texture and intimacy of the boxed prints.

In the end, it isn't wonder or delight in the technological aspect of this work which is accented. It is in the sense of poetry and light with which Williams imbues his images.