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    Olmec Colossal Heads in the paintings of Aubrey Williams

    Dudley, Ian (2020) Olmec Colossal Heads in the paintings of Aubrey Williams. Art History 43 (4), pp. 828-855. ISSN 0141-6790.

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    This essay examines the use of Olmec colossal heads as a central motif in the late work of Aubrey Williams (1926-1990). Focusing on four key paintings, Chato Presence (1982), Night and the Olmec (1983), Chato III (1984) and Hymn to the Sun IV (1984), it connects the colossal heads’ appearance to themes of decolonialism, diaspora and cross-culturality, which are fundamental for understanding the artist’s transnational life and practice. The works belonged to an epic cycle of 40 oil on canvas paintings known as the Olmec–Maya series, which were first exhibited in London in 1985 and represented the culmination of Williams’s lifelong engagement with Indigenous American aesthetics and archaeology. By locating the colossal head motif in relation to this trajectory and aspects of Guyana’s colonial history, particularly slavery, emancipation and its postwar indepedence struggle, it describes how Williams transformed these iconic sculptures into avatars of postcolonial vision.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Ian Dudley
    Date Deposited: 27 May 2020 10:49
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:00


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