Gallery Bergelli

A love of color, a passion for paint, an instinct for structure. With these simple tools, William DEBilzan builds his pictorial world. It is an unfettered world, free of superfluous details and hackneyed specifics, free of commitment to a single style, a world where chance and choice take turns at bat. In this painterly realm, only two rules apply: For the artist, "Do what you please." For the viewer, "See what you wish."

Abstraction and figuration cohabit in DEBilzan's expressionist paintings. Even the most intentionally nonobjective works depict, to some perceptions, concrete images brought forth from the depths of the imagination. The "Horizon" paintings, those in which the canvas is split into two fields of saturated color, one above the other, refer to the landscape. DEBilzan's choice of rich primary colors, however, often contradicts these references and we are spun back into a nonreferential reading of the work. The same is true in compositions where the arrangement of verticals and horizontals provokes thoughts of interior scenes or still-lifes. The artist's rich surfaces and playful approach to subject matter offer an opportunity for any number of interpretations.

At the same time, the most obviously representational works resist formal classification as realism and border instead on the border of abstraction. DEBilzan uses figurative elements; buildings, children, trees, the sun, as the raw materials for constructing loose, colorful mosaics of blocks, lines and circles. These soft geometries allude to the natural, everyday world of three dimensions, but their bold flatness, where no one element is given precedence over another, pushes them out of the region of pictorialism and into an area of semiabstract figuration. In a sense, DEBilzan's painting relates to a range of post World War II painting traditions in America, from the Abstract Expressionists in New York to the Bay Area figurative painters in San Francisco. His undeniable infatuation with the texture of paint and the use of both thin, ethereal washes in some instances, and thick layers of viscous pigment over textured, contrasting underpainting in others, mark him as a versatile, yet controlled manipulator of the medium. Color rules in these works, but structural underpinnings or carefully arranged pictorial elements always play a significant role.

Playfulness and exploration are DEBilzan's true subject matters. His paintings represent a pure visual expression of freedom, that appeals, both to the viewer's eye and the artist's own desire for an easier, more playful take on life and art.


William DeBilzan