Untitled (from the Maya Olmec and Now Series) (l1970s) Oil on canvas 90 x 120 cm Private Collection
Aubrey Williams was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1926, and died in 1990. He joined E.R. Burrowes’ Working Peoples’ Art Class at the age of 12. He initially trained as an agronomist and worked as an Agricultural Field Officer on the sugar plantations of the Guyanese East Coast and later in the North-West region, where he became acquainted with indigenous Warao people. This introduced him to pre-Columbian arts and cultures which remained as an important influence throughout his artistic career.
Williams left Guyana in 1952, and moved to the United Kingdom, where he had his first exhibition in 1954. He became associated with Denis Bowen’s New Vision Centre Gallery and attended the St Martins School of Art, and he quickly became a figure of note in the post-war British avant-garde art scene. In 1966, he was one of the founders of the Caribbean Artists Movement, which brought together artists, writers and intellectuals from the Caribbean who resided in the United Kingdom and served as a platform for the articulation of Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora cultural identities and ideological positions. From 1970 onward, Williams worked in studios in Jamaica and Florida as well as the UK and he also visited Guyana where he executed a major mural commission at the Timehri Airport in 1970. It was during this period that he produced three of his most well-known series of paintings: Shostakovich, The Olmec Maya and Now and Cosmos.
The work in the present exhibition is part of his Olmec Maya series and has a dedication to the then Guyanese President Forbes Burnham on the back.