September 1, 2021—October 30, 2021 | Online Exhibition
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present our first exhibition of photographs by New York artist Luke Kempton Williams. Titled “OMENS,” the show features 13 images, all from the West Coast and taken over a twelve-month period of pandemic isolation and re-emergence in a changed world. In some, the subject is nearly unrecognizable, filtered by particular intimate perspective that gives primacy to the formal and haptic qualities of the image. In others, the subject depicts a landscape absent of the human figure yet marred or controlled by it. The pictures become poems of angst, desperation, isolation and abandonment. The works in “OMENS” act as an episodic narrative, a dystopian chronicle of the human condition. Smoke, smoldering fires, and water emphasize the power of nature and its renewal. Broken glass, a sign with bullet holes, and trash heaps echo the violence and chaos of human behavior. “Room With A View” depicts a rusted sign purposely cropped the image to obscure the words. Upon closer inspection, two bullet holes reveal a desert landscape beyond. The sign, now functionless, acts as a portal into an equally desolate world on the other side. In another work, “Hello, My Name Is God,” acidic orange smoke floats above rippling water creating a nether worldly scene. Williams is adept at showing us a world that is off balance both physically and psychologically. This conflict is emphasized by his use of lighting and colored gels to create chromatic aberrations and imbue a work with the atmosphere of a psychosis. Each of the photographs in “OMENS” are pregnant with a tension that alludes to something that’s just happened, or is about to unfold before our eyes.
Luke Williams depicts what he sees as his United States. United in its states of struggle and hope as a nation but also the integration of his homosexuality and the perceived antithesis of queerness in blue collar culture. His photographs draw attention to and survey objects of personal note, often disparate or disconnected but linked through progressive sequences that induce cinematic storytelling. Each image though powerful on its own serves to amplify the arching themes of his narratives.
Williams is the founder and publisher of the magazine Cave Homo, which focuses on queer creativity and inclusion. It expresses an alternate outlook on LGBTQIA+ life, influences, identity and culture, different than the image of the community portrayed in media and advertising. Cave Homo serves as a beacon to those who don’t feel they fit within the confines of traditional queer archetypes and offers a fresh crop of artists, performers, musicians, writers, photographers and other creative outsiders to encourage, validate, and inspire Queer freedom, pride and excellence.
Born in 1983 and raised in Olympia, Washington, Luke Kempton Williams is a queer multi-disciplinary artist whose practice includes photography, video and sculpture. He lives and works between New York City and the Oregon Coast.