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Roberts Projects is pleased to present Synonym, Justin Williams’ first solo exhibition at the gallery. Created in his studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Williams’ paintings bloom from an intricate and autobiographical root system that coils, veins and splinters through meditations on his upbringing in Melbourne, Australia, as well as his ancestral connections to Alexandria, Egypt and visions conjured by the surreal landscape of the American Southwest. Painted with a gently-worn palette that includes brick, indigo, ochre, jade, slate, rust, lilac, bone and terracotta, Williams composes scenes of gatherings—real and imagined—in which friends, relatives, strangers, lovers, animals and phantoms intermingle; as an artist, Williams transforms into a topographer of memory on an odyssey of encounter.

To observe one of Williams’ paintings is to be beckoned into a story that began before we arrived and will continue after we are gone, sparking a curiosity for his subjects’ allusive context. Who are these characters gathered in a kitchen waiting for a coffee percolator to boil? Where is the field in which this man reclines amidst yellow flowers while a woman plays guitar and they both gaze into a moonladen sunset? Under what circumstances do a man, a goat and a can of gasoline converge in the yard beyond a red house? Born from collaged recollections and fantasies, these figures take shape as Williams obscures and excavates layers from previous stages of the painting—a translucent palimpsest in which the composition gradually softens and erodes, giving way to emerging figures, dynamics and details.

Through this mystical approach to portraiture, Williams thinly veils the idiosyncrasies and mythologies of individuals intimate to him and his ancestors. Charting migrations between the concealed and revealed, he trusts his canvases to protect a sacred and interior life while offering glimpses into kindred and familiar relationships. His subjects need not explain who they are, where they come from, or why they are there, but it is clear in the eyes of every person he portrays that they are vessels of textured histories, emotions and longings. Transcending sequential timelines and geographies with each canvas, Williams preserves the continuum of interpersonal wonder that propels him along his particular and precious life.

About the Artist

Justin Williams (b. 1984, Melbourne, Australia; based in Santa Fe, New Mexico) received a B.A. in Communication and Design from Swinburne University in 2004. His practice is colored by both his Egyptian heritage and the communities he has forged between Australia, France and New Mexico, where he currently lives and works. Composed within a displaced timeline that ripples between the past, present and imagined, his canvases form a pentimento of personal history, memory and mythology. He has had recent solo exhibitions at COMA, Sydney, Australia; Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris, France; Vigo Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Sade Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Galerie l'Inlassable, Paris, France; and Anna Pappas Gallery, Melbourne, Australia. His practice has been featured in numerous publications including Cmarthoughts, Talking with Painters, Forbes, and Artist Profile. His work is included in the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection, Arndt Collection and the Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art.

For additional information regarding Justin Williams, please contact Mary Skarbek, Senior Director at 1.323.549.0223 and

For press inquiries, please contact Hannah Gottlieb-Graham, ALMA Communications