<strong>Aubrey Williams</strong>, <em>Symphony No. 5, Opus 47</em>, 1981. Oil on canvas, 183 x 274.5 cm.<strong>Aubrey Williams</strong>, <em>Shostakovich Symphony No. 14, Opus 135</em>, 1981. Oil on canvas, 154 x 274 cm.<strong>Aubrey Williams</strong>, <em>Hymn to the Sun IV</em>, 1984. Oil on canvas, 120 x 178 cm. (Olmec Maya series)</em>

AUBREY WILLIAMS

Aubrey Williams.
Photo: © Val Wilmer, 1981.
Aubrey Williams, Carib Ritual IV, 19673.
Acrylic on canvas, 103 x 120 cm.


Aubrey Williams travelled to London from Guyana in 1952 touring Britain and Europe extensively to examine works of modernist painters admired since he was a child. Throughout the 1950s and '60s Williams developed his art practice, exhibiting in the UK and abroad. He spent time in Italy, France and Germany, and enrolled at St Martin’s School of Art in London. The 1956 and 1959 Tate American Abstract Expressionism exhibitions – particularly works of Pollock, Rothko and Gorky – greatly inspired Williams. During the 1970s and ‘80s Williams’ painted in Jamaica and Florida, able to take advantage of light and environment as they impacted his resulting work.

The early 1980s witnessed Williams’ tour de force: two series both of large-scale paintings: one abstract series expressing his passionate encounter with the music of Dimitri Shostakovich and the other, entitled Olmec-Maya (1981-1984), drawing on his deep knowledge of historic Mesoamerican cultures. October Gallery has represented Williams from its first solo show of his work in 1984. Williams has been exhibited in a wide range of contexts and institutions, including Rasheed Araeen’s The Other Story (1989), the Whitechapel Art Gallery’s major retrospective, and a room display at Tate Britain. In 2010, October Gallery linked with the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool to produce two simultaneous Aubrey Williams exhibitions. In 2014, a symposium on his work was held at Cambridge University with another at October Gallery in 2015, highlighting the fact that his works still resist classification while attracting ever more attention.

With Williams paintings and archives accessible in public collections including Tate Britain, London; Arts Council England; Natural History Museum, London; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; the increasing recognition of his unique place in British art history continues to be explored.

 

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AUBREY WILLIAMS

Born in 1926, Georgetown, Guyana. Died in 1990, London, UK.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2018    Aubrey Williams, October Gallery, London, UK
2015  Realm of the Sun, October Gallery, London, UK
2014-18   Faculty of English Library, Churchill College, Cambridge, UK
2013   Aubrey Williams: Shostakovich Symphonies and Quartets, Hales Gallery, London, UK
2010   Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK; October Gallery, London, UK
2008   Rotunda Space, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
2007   Goodison Room, Tate Britain, London, UK
2006   October Gallery, London, UK
2004   October Gallery, London, UK
1998   Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK
1996-97   Harlem & Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, USA
1996   Castellani House, Georgetown, Guyana
1995-96   Cosmos Series, October Gallery, London,
1992   Endangered Birds, Henry Sotheran Ltd (fine books & prints), London, UK
1990   Aubrey Williams Celebration, Commonwealth Institute, London, UK
A Tribute to Aubrey Williams, Guyana Museum, Georgetown, Guyana
A Tribute to Aubrey Williams, Contemporary Art Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
1989   De Graaf Fine Art, Chicago USA
October Gallery, London, UK
1988   Contemporary Arts Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
Shibuya Tokyo Plaza, Tokyo, Japan
1986/87/88   October Gallery, London, UK
1985   The Olmec-Maya & Now, Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London, UK
Goldsmith College Gallery, London, UK
Cosmos, Gallery Barrington, Kingston, Jamaica
Contemporary Arts Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
1984   October Gallery, London, UK
Paintings on the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
1981   Commonwealth Institute, London, UK
1976   Gallery Barrington, Kingston, Jamaica
1975   Olympia International Art Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
1974   The Warehouse, Kingston, Jamaica
1973/74   Little Gallery, Kingston, Jamaica
1973   1973 Nicholas Treadwell Gallery, London, UK
1972   Illinois Centre, Chicago, USA
Carifesta ’72; Critchlow Labour College, Georgetown, Guyana
1971   Camden Arts Centre, London, UK
1970   John Peartree Gallery, Kingston, Jamaica
1969   Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, UK
1967   Van Mildert College, Durham University, Durham, UK
1965   Commonwealth Institute, London, UK
1964   Forum Galleries, Bristol, UK
1963   Grabowski Gallery, London, UK
Gallery 60, Colchester, UK
Ritchie Hendricks Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
1961   Richmond Hill Gallery, Richmond, UK
Galleria Pater, Milan, Italy
1959   St Catherine’s College, Oxford, UK
1958/59/60   New Vision Centre Gallery, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions
2020   Atmospheres; Artists of the Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
Frieze New York, online with Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, USA
Art Basel Miami Beach, with Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, Florida, USA  
2019   Dream No Small Dream: Celebrating 40 Years of the Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
    Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House, London, UK
2018-19  Speech: Acts: Refection-Imagination-Repetition, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
2017   Summertime, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2016   No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action, 1960-1990, Guildhall Art Gallery, London, UK
EXPO Chicago, with Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, Chicago, USA
Aviary, Transition Gallery, London, UK
2015   Artist and Empire, Tate Britain, London, UK
2014   35 Years of the Transvangarde:Contemporary art from around the planet, October Gallery, London, UK
2012   Masters of the Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
2009   Transvangarde: Leading Contemporary Artists, October Gallery, London, UK
2008   October Gallery Winter Show, October Gallery, London, UK
2005   ‘Intelligence Now!’, October Gallery, London
1996/97   Transforming the Crown: Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, USA
1992   Belgrave Gallery, London, UK
1989-90   The Other Story’ – Hayward Gallery, London, UK
1988   Summer Show, October Gallery, London, UK
1987   From the National Gallery, Guyana; Caracas, Venezuela, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Creation for Liberation, Brixton Village, London, UK
Art ’87, October Gallery, London, UK
1986   Camden Arts Centre, London, UK
Leicestershire Museum & Art Gallery, Northampton, UK
Autumn Equinox, October Gallery, London, UK
1985   GLC Brixton Recreation Centre, London, UK
Contemporary Arts Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
1982/84   Westbourne Gallery, London, UK
19771977   Festac ‘77‘– Festival of the Arts, Lagos, Nigeria
Jamaica House, Kingston, Jamaica
1975/76/77   Gallery Barrington, Kingston, Jamaica
1975/76   Olympia International Arts Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
1971/73/74/77   Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London, UK
1970   Guyana Museum, Georgetown, Guyana
1968   London School of Economics, London, UK
City Art Gallery, Bristol UK
West Indian Students Centre, London UK
House of Commons, London, UK
1967/68   University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
1967   Expo ’67, Montreal, Canada
São Paulo Biennale (XI), Brazil
Brighton Festival of Arts, Sussex, UK
Theatre Royal, Stratford, UK
1966   The Arun Art Centre, Arundel, Sussex, UK
1966-70   Nicholas Treadwell Gallery, London, UK
1965   Arts Council, Karachi, Pakistan
Arts Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
Commonwealth Arts Festival, Royal Academy of Art, London, UK
University of Glasgow & Commonwealth Arts Festival, Glasgow, Scotland
1964   Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
1962   National College of Art, Dublin, Ireland
1961/62/63/65   Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London, UK
1961   New Vision Centre Gallery, London, UK
Galerie Walcheturm, Zürich, Switzerland
1960   David Jones’ Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
Hessenhuis, Antwerp, Belgium
Walkers Gallery, London, UK
Woodstock Gallery, London, UK
Portal Gallery, London, UK
Univision Royal Court Grill, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
Grabowski Gallery, London, UK
1958   Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, France
1954   Archer Gallery, London, UK
Important Purchases, Work in Important Collections

Arts Council of Great Britain, UK
Bank of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica
Booker McConnell Plc, London, UK
British Broadcasting Corporation, London UK
Castellani House, National Collection of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana
Church House, Kingston, Jamaica
Commonwealth Institute, London, UK
Contemporary Arts Centre, Kingston, Jamaica
Eliot and Rutherford Colleges, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
Everand Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Guyana House of Assembly, Georgetown, Guyana
Jamaica House, Jamaica
National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica
Natural History Museum, London, UK
Marlborough House, London, UK
October Gallery, London, UK
Olympia International Art Centre (A D Scott – collector), Kingston, Jamaica
Perez Miami Museum, Miami, USA
Rice Marketing Board of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, UK
Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
St Catherine’s College, Oxford, UK
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Tuesday Magazine (boardroom), Chicago, USA
University of the West Indies, Mary Secole Hall Kingston, Jamaica
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
University of York, York, UK
Van Mildert College, Durham University, Durham, UK
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
York City Art Gallery, York, UK

Honours
1970    The Golden Arrow of Achievement, Guyana
1980   The Cross of Merit of St. Anthony of the Desert
1986    The Cacique’s Crown of Honour, Guyana

Awards/Prizes
1964    First Commonwealth Biennale of Abstract Art
1964    Commonwealth Prize for Painting, London, UK
1979   Real Aula Mallorquesa seu Esquela Miramar
1980   Acadamia Italia delle Arti e del Lavoro, (Nomination as“Academic of Italy with Gold Medal”)
Murals and Commissions
1961    Heraldry at York – City of York Art Gallery (Commission)
1970   Timehri (then), Timehri Airport, Georgetown, Guyana (Commission)
1976   Olympia International Art Centre, Kingston, Jamaica (Commission)
    African Methodist Episcopal Church of Christ Our Redeemer, Kingston, Jamaica
    School of Hope, Kingston, Jamaica (Commission)
    Guyana High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (Commission)
1978   Coral Reef – (private house), Wiltshire, UK (Commission)
    University of Dalhousie, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Commission)
1980   portrait – His Serene Excellency, Baron Bradford of Kani, London, UK (Commission)

Important Gifts
1960    Revolt – Castellani House, Guyana
1966   Apotheosis of Rice – Rice Marketing Board of Guyana
1971   Guyana Myths – Castellani House, Guyana
1982   Shostakovich Symphony No 6 – Milton Keynes General Hospital, Milton Keynes, UK

Film
2016   Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History, presenter Brenda Emmanus; producer/director Alex Harding; a BBC Studios Film (documentary) for BBC Four, 52 mins.
1986   The Mark of the Hand, directed by Imruh Bakari.  Colour, 16mm, 52 mins, 25fps.  London: Arts Council/Kuumba Productions.
    Works also featured in films, television and still photography
     

OCTOBER GALLERY ARTISTS