As we’re gearing up for InLiquid’s 2021 Benefit, we’re talking to artists to get the stories behind themselves and their work being featured this year! Didier William‘s work, Anwo, is included in this year’s Benefit, which runs April 7 – 11 both in person by appointment, and online!
Jeffrey Holder: What was your most difficult or even frightening moment on the job as an artist? And what inspired you to keep going through it all?
Didier William: The entirety of the process is wholly frightening and difficult. There is no certainty to being an artist. When I was a kid and I started going to an art program that was an hour south of where we lived. The fact of uncertainty was immediately impressed on me and my parents by my instructors at the time. Living your life as an artist is in some ways making an explicit decision that certainty is not a virtue, instead we’ll center curiosity, investigate doubt and nourish the alchemy of the process. So locating the moment that was most frightful would be pretty difficult because that list is quite long. That fear is present every day I got to the studio. And it’s precisely what keeps me coming back.
JH: What goes into creating one of your pieces (process / time)?
DW: Everything starts with drawing. Looking back on it I think my instruction at every level centered drawing, so even now when I’m generating ideas and seeing how those ideas might develop, drawing is the engine. My surfaces are layered through an additive and reductive process. Some of this I think is borrowed from my practice as a printmaker. I also enjoy working this way because it lends itself to me working on multiple paintings at a time. Typically I’m usually cycling between 5 or 6 different paintings at once. I get really excited for the moment they all reach a finished state. At that point the studio feels like my own universe, charged and pulsing with characters that I’ve given life.
JH: Tell us about the piece you have in the upcoming Benefit. What’s the story there?
DW: This work borrows its composition from a painting I made last year titled “Nan syel la.” Which means “In the sky.” That painting was part of a series of paintings where I was looking at cloudscapes in late baroque early classical landscape paintings. I will often revisit the same composition in various scales and different media. I find this to be an incredibly useful tool to help me understand the characters and spaces in my paintings that develop over time.
JH: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve ever bought, by another artist?
DW: I don’t usually buy work from other artists. Most often my artists friends and I will trade. I traded with one of my dear friends Leslie Smith who’s a terrific painter, he gave me this beautiful piece he made at a time where he was working with images of police dogs used in interrogations as an intimidation tactic. It’s a really stunning work that almost reads like geometric abstraction more than a representational painting. That’s probably my favorite.
JH: A question we’ve all been seeing, especially over the last year or so, but we’d like your personal perspective on it: Why does art matter?
DW: When life proves itself stubbornly unanswerable and immeasurable, Art gives us redemptive truth and an affirming the presence. Perhaps the better question is when has Art not mattered?