William Downs

Standing on the Verge of…, January 2019

For our first exhibit of 2019, Grizzly Grizzly is honored to host the first solo show in Philadelphia of Atlanta-based artist William Downs. Downs’ immersive ink wall drawing will depict a hallucinatory parade of figures mingling with spirits in a desert backdrop. The title, Standing on the Verge of…, references the liminal space in which much of his imagery resides: it is a celebration that is both revelatory and melancholy, sensual and repulsive.

Downs situates his work in the lineage of Western figurative painting. There are clear nods to the cannon: the chaotic and sensual bacchanal of Hieronymus Bosch, the implied movement of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, and the masterful mark-making and sensuality of Picasso’s Vollard Suite. Yet, there is an equally rich store of unexpected influences, from the lyrics of Merle Haggard, to personal experiences in a sweat lodge during a residency at the Takoja Institute in New Mexico. His references evoke a scene that is both timely in its embrace of confusion and chaos, and timeless in its dream-like reverie.

Artist Bio

William Downs received a mutli-disciplinary MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland institute College of Art, and a BFA in painting and printmaking from the Atlanta College of Art and Design. He has had solo exhibitions nationwide, including at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, Parker Jones Gallery in Los Angeles, and Slag Gallery in New York, NY. His work was included in Black Pulp!, which travelled to multiple museum venues including the African American Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Downs is represented by Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta, GA.

This project was supported in part by The Velocity Fund administered by Temple Contemporary with generous funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.