August 29, 2023, New York, NY —Cavalier Galleries is delighted to announce Love and Science, a solo exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by William Nelson. Nelson’s work combines a love of popular culture, classic films, and new technologies with painting prowess and an exuberant imagination. The exhibition opens Thursday, September 7, at the 530 W 24th Street gallery, with an artist reception from 6–8 p.m., and runs through Saturday, September 30, 2023.
In his latest series, A.I. Apocalypse: Seductive Takeover, Nelson addresses anxieties about the emergence of artificial intelligence with his signature whimsy. He presents an optimistic view of a future where scraped (A.I.-generated) screenplays can’t compete with the genuine human touch. Nelson replaces the Hollywood trope of the sentient A.I. being that takes over the planet and enslaves humanity with a sexy, playful character he calls the Killer A.I. Robot. The robot is a voluptuous female dressed in bright pink, who looks more astronaut than alien, and seems nonthreatening despite her formidable name. She is inspired by prehistoric Venus figurines carved from mammoth ivory in a very Nelsonesque mashup of ancient art and a coming apocalypse.
Killer A. I. Robot is a time traveler who uses conventional and somewhat comical means of transport to visit the New York City of centuries past, which Nelson depicts in black and white. She roller skates at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, rides her Vespa across the Brooklyn Bridge in its debut year of 1883, and scooters past the original Trans-Lux Theatre on Madison Avenue which opened in 1931 as a destination for watching news reels.
The exhibition includes paintings from several other series as well. In For Play: Scientific Discoveries and Hot Toys, Nicole Kidman in a negligee gives a 1960s-era Slinky package a not-so-family-friendly vibe, while Farrah Fawcett flashes her pearly whites on a vintage NERF ball box. It’s Pop art meets Playboy with a retro spin. In Ghosts in the Machine: Human Qualities of Smart Technology, Nelson seems to pay homage to Surrealist antecedents like Dalí and Magritte as man and machine merge in bizarrely humorous ways.
A more direct art historical reference can be found in Nelson’s Odalisque on the Dark Side of the Moon. In this 30 x 60-inch canvas, he transports the reclining figure from Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres’ 1814 Neoclassical painting into a room with rainbow-hued drapery and imagery from the iconic 1973 Pink Floyd album referenced in the title. As the artist often does to indicate discordant time periods, the 19th-century nude figure is rendered in black and white, while the more contemporary elements are depicted in full color.
Just when there seems to be a method to the madness of a William Nelson painting, a formula for a certain series, the passionate and prolific artist will break his own invented rules and move in a new direction. He draws freely from visual references spanning centuries, media, and countries of origin to create artwork that feels surprising and new. In this way, he is very much a painter of our age, where access to information is seemingly limitless and we are inundated daily with myriad images, as artificial realities compete for our attention in the physical world. From this bounty, Nelson prepares his visual feasts a la carte, serving up an eye candy all his own.
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Gallery hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and by appointment.