Catalogue of the "Arizona Tour"

Take only pictures, leave only footprints


The "Voyage en Arizona" series has its origins in a journey through the southwest of the United States. Thanks to a grant given to Isabelle Jarry, we were able to travel for three months, together, on the highways, the back roads and the footpaths of the Southwest.
Especially for the American tour of this exhibition, I have made seven new oil-on-canvas paintings in the same spirit, structure, size and theme that the eleven original pastels.
I have composed all these images with my eyes still full of the immense, hostile light of the landscapes, where the humble traveller gets used to being botanist, zoologist, archaeologist, mineralogist, astronomer, historian, entomologist, theologian, dendrochronologist, philosopher, and so on ... in other words, being ignorant and "barefoot in the sacred earth".
Were we dreaming then, when we sometimes became that wind furiously sweeping Monument Valley, or that thunder whipping the red scarlet and yellow flanks of Grand Canyon, or those waters of a volcanic lake so glacial and pure, or even those two nondescript crows flying high over the vertiginous abysses within the arid plane, spiked with vibrant polymorphous cacti surrounded by the furnace of a sky forever blue?

William A Wilson

Catalogue of the "Arizona Tour" exhibition in San Francisco 1997. Publisher Louis Vuitton.


Louis Vuitton & William Wilson

Since its founding in 1854, Louis Vuitton has been intimately involved with all kinds of voyages. In its early days, those voyages were often adventures of exploration and discovery. Today, Louis Vuitton periodically reconnects with these origins by underwriting an artist who has a unique perspective on travel and its myriad meanings.
African-French painter William Wilson is one such contemporary artist. In his series of pastels titled "Le voyage en Arizona" (created in the fall 1994, following a three-month trip through the American Southwest) and the oil-on-canvas works he has made since then, William Wilson invites us to join him on two simultaneous journeys : we follow his actual meanderings through the heart of the glorious Southwest, and we also see his personal reactions to the primitive and earthy vitality that reigns in that part of the country.
Each pastel draws its inspiration from Southwest's breathtaking landscapes, Native American myths and arts, and the "American Dream", and each features a central circle as its heart, enfolding the landscapes and a festival of hybrid figures which revolve around it.
This is William Wilson's interpretation of the concept of time as a circle. This notion is found throughout the world, in various cultures, including the Navajo Indians, from whom William Wilson has borrowed the idea of "Sipapu", (the "navel" through which the people emerged into this world) as a metaphor of the artist drawing out his creation from within the very center of life and also from his own "navel". It's perhaps because William Wilson himself emerges from two different cultures that his pictures are so successful in commingling both ancestral myths and modern world within the jubilant celebration of the American Southwest.
Louis Vuitton has supported William Wilson's work by creating a limited edition (1500 each) of five of these original pastels reproduced on hand-screened silk scarves, and it has sponsored the 1995 Paris and 1996 San Francisco exhibitions. These initiatives are part of its ongoing art program, whose previous participants include such world-renowned contemporary artists as Arman, Cesar, James Rosenquist, Sol LeWitt, etc.
With William Wilson and this exhibition, Louis Vuitton salutes a new generation of painters from the French "Figuration Libre" movement.

Yves Carcelle
President of Louis Vuitton Malletier

 ©william wilson

1997  | nc