(Australian, b. 1985, lives and works in Melbourne, Australia)
Justin Williams creates work that is quietly mystical. It reaches us from a place of subversive beauty, where urban legends and local stories contain strange and wonderful characters. It is these characters that interest and inform a new body of sculptures and paintings, which delve into the mysteries of the mountain where Williams lives and works.
Raw and honest, Williams is delving into the internal struggle of the duality between light and dark, beauty and hostility, legends and truth; these works are both finished, yet unfinished, as are the people and stories that inform them. His paintings reveal landscapes shimmering in a space between public and hidden worlds; his sculptures speak of characters living within the confines of an almost smothering forest. Although Justin Williams’ works may appear to be a product of an active imagination, in recent years Williams has been living and working in Victoria Australia’s picturesque Dandenong Ranges, where he has found unique tales and characters that prove to be more curious than fiction. From his idyllic studio in the mountains he investigates his relatively isolated surroundings through ceramic and painted works. From the beauty found in nature to local folklore, including tales of a lone black panther that wanders the bush, to the often-strange inhabitants of the quiet mountain towns, Williams produces work that reflects on and celebrates the character of the place he lives.
Williams is a painter and ceramicist based in Victoria, Australia. He was born in 1985 and received a Bachelor of Communication and Design, majoring in Printmaking and Illustration from Swinburn University in 2004. He has held numerous solo exhibitions including Viridian, 2014, Anna Pappas Gallery, Melbourne; Mountain I Miss You, 2013, Mild Manner, Brisbane; A Touch of Norway, 2012, Lapis Lazuli Pop Up Factory Gallery, Melbourne. His selected group exhibitions include at the Melbourne Art Fair in 2014; Project 14: Free Range, 2014, Anna Pappas Gallery; Trouble in Paradise, 2012, Paradise Hills Gallery, Melbourne; and Group Show, 2012, Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne. He has been featured in Artist Profile, Australian Creative and New York Arts Magazine.
FAi: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Justin Williams: I think i have never realized or wanted to feel entitled to call myself an artist - it's more something that I have always been, not that I am any different to anyone else on this earth, more to the point, I think everyone feels the pull to create, it's just drummed out of us as we get older. I guess i never grew up, so the realization that I was never going to change and so i could continue to create is something
that I'm so happy I realized.
FAi: Who are your influences?
Justin Williams: I love a lot of outsider artists, and also the different communities that live around Indonesia. They just have this way of creating the most amazing works. They may not be classified as fine art, or even objects of art, but they have a use. The people that create them feel the need to make such amazing works, whether it's the die houses in Ubud or wood carving. But in terms of contemporary art, I love Edvard Munch and Matisse. I understand that these are artists that everyone would talk about, and perhaps I should choose some others, but the more I look and understand the works, the more I find they were absolute geniuses of art.
FAi: What is the greatest challenge you have faced?
Justin Williams: I think the balance between living in isolation, and with people. I guess it goes with the territory of taking this as seriously as I can. I was in a long term relationship and could have gotten married and had children, but for me I felt like that was a sacrifice I had to make for my work. I think it's something that might work at some point, but the challenge of more or less completely giving up someone you love, to follow what you have no choice in doing was a hard one.
FAi: What are your plans for the future?
Justin Williams: It doesn't matter - I try to be in the present. I used to stress about what was next but I always feel that as long as I keep creating it will never end, so planning things never work out - it's more to do with managing where to place works. But I am enjoying being in Brooklyn - it's a nice change from the forest and isolating coast of Australia, so I might stay here for a bit.