For her current exhibition at New York’s P.P.O.W. Gallery, “Sons of the Pioneers,” Robin F. Williams subverts the portraiture cannon of the 18th and 19th centuries, presenting romanticized portraits of male subjects in repose that stand in contrast to the typical depictions of idle, idealized females by male painters. Williams’s realist painting technique, infused with colorful reflections that evoke the sunrise, is derived from the Manifest Destiny era of American history. Her subjects populate the sublime landscapes that predominantly male pioneers once sought to conquer.
But, as Williams illuminates in her show statement, the men in these paintings are still and introspective, focusing on their inner meditation rather than acting out the impetus to dominate nature. Despite the Romanticist influence, Williams’s subjects are decidedly contemporary, with bizarre costumes and headdresses that evoke today’s high fashion designs. “Sons of the Pioneers” is on view through March 15. Take a look at some images from the show below.