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"Peter Williams: Nyack" featured in Hyperallergic's "Top 50 Exhibitions of 2022"

Are we finally back to our normal selves after almost three years of a global pandemic that upended so many lives? It’s still hard to tell, isn’t it? In most of the world, art museums and galleries sprung back to life in 2022, matching or coming close to pre-pandemic levels of programming and attendance. Here in New York, we’ve returned to the familiar pickle of too many shows running at once, and not enough time to see them all. This year, we’re going big with a list of 50 memorable shows from around the world, seen and loved by our team of editors and contributors. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, as travel was still limited this year. Instead, this is a snapshot of who we were and what we saw in 2022, including some surprises. —Hakim Bishara, Senior Editor 

30. Peter Williams: Nyack

Peter Williams (1952–2021) was born in the comfortable town of Nyack, a little north of Manhattan, and had his first show there when he was 17 years old. Soon after, his life was irreparably changed and he realized he was living on borrowed time. When he was a young man living in New Mexico, he was a passenger in a car driven by a suicidal companion who drove off a cliff. The person driving did not suffer major injuries, while Williams had to have a leg amputated. Being at the mercy of someone else’s self-loathing permanently marked Williams’s life. In his work, Williams channels an awareness that abuse and mayhem are integral to the state’s treatment of people of color. What makes his treatment of this subject difficult for the mainstream art world to embrace — difficulties faced by Robert Colescott and Peter Saul — is the mixture of offbeat humor, abject horror, and seething rage. And like Colescott and Saul, Williams had a wide and deep conversation with art history. He incorporates aspects of geometric abstraction and pointillism, along with caricature, invented superheroes, and a unique orchestration of colors. Williams’s subjects don’t exist apart from his colors, that’s why people are discomforted. How do you respond to a figure that Williams called a “lynching tree,” hoisting a plump, yellow-haired man in checkered coveralls? — John Yau

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