Lost Flag of New Africa

Peter Williams
Lost Flag of New Africa
Lost Flag of New Africa
Peter Williams (b. 1952 Nyack, New York), Lost Flag of New Africa, 2019, Oil-based enamel, oil and pencil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds provided by Wellesley College Friends of Art 2019.1113
 

Lost Flag of New Africa is the first work by Peter Williams (b. 1952 Nyack, NY) to enter the Davis Museum’s collections. Currently working in Wilmington, Delaware, Williams earned his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Williams’ works are partly inspired by his personal experiences of growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Nyack, New York, then moving to majority African American communities in cities such as Baltimore, Maryland and Detroit, Michigan. He often presents elements of the African American experience in a fantastical manner. While the artist is known for his figurative, satirical and often overtly political paintings infused with dark humor, Lost Flag of New Africa denies a straightforward viewing experience and interpretation with its puzzle-like composition. Rendered in a pointillist style, staggered vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines create both geometric forms and directional movement. The rectangles and triangles look like they should piece together to form a whole, but are intentionally mismatched. The composition evokes woven African textiles, and the colors and textures are arranged in a quilt-like manner. Rather than being completely abstract, however, the solid blues and reds seem to make up a figure hidden behind the barred yellow blocks, which hinder our view and understanding of the subject. Lost Flag of New Africa represents a nuanced manifestation of Williams’ exploration of the African diasporic identities by invoking African textiles and geometric patterns.