Cody Ledvina: I want to look at your Instagram presence first. The content you display is through a program that allows you to superimpose imagery on top of each other. You have a history of combining images through different formats–Instagram seems to be a natural fit for that branch of your practice.
Bill Willis: There are several bodies of work represented by the web collages, each commenting on some role I play out during the day. They all have evolved as a way for me to communicate in a daily or topical way, usually through absurdity and over-simplification about my thoughts and mood. I used to have a couple of selfies for faces, but have settled in to the one with the horse laugh or mule-eating-briars smile.
CL: Got any of those early collages we can see?
BW: Yep, these collages are from 2009. I’ve made collages, either by hand, chemical photography, xerography or digital means for years. I had journals of collages, notes, lists and drawings with me all the time, along with retail catalogs, pornography and Japanese haircut magazines as materials, working wherever I was with scissors and glue stick. Now that there are so many online sources for imagery, decent phone cameras, multiple editing apps and cloud storage, I can travel light and make things on the fly, saving the studio for painting.
CL: Your paintings focus on objects in such a casual way, in that your framing seems to degrade the aspects that people normally aesthetically develop within a calculated portrait of food. You meticulously craft the paintings while actively downplaying the significance of the object. Artists or Instagramers who post images of food in their pictures consider it’s presence. What do you have to say in response to the statements I have just made?
BW: The subject seems dead or free at the moment, ready to be recharged. It’s not like I’m a very conceptual guy. The food images are ubiquitous: it’s like genre painting. I’m always shopping lifestyle catalogues, Instagram and feeds looking for subjects to transform and inhabit. I’m drawn to all the window dressing, theatricality and seduction of product photography. Sometimes it has to do with nostalgia, but I don’t want the products–most I can’t afford or never existed anyway. I collect the images instead, choosing, editing and distorting compositions of meat and other food like stand-ins for bodies. It is an excuse for me to paint and view, which are both very sensual activities. I do the whole thing for kicks.
CL: I asked 4chan about your Meat and Vessel paintings. Would you like to see what they said?
BW: Yes, Outsourcing the feedback for the paintings is interesting and hilarious considering many of the images where sourced from the web.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Bill Willis: is an Artist and educator living in Houston, Texas.
Cody Ledvina: Ledvina received his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Houston in 2009. He has shown his paintings in Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Baltimore, and New York. He currently lives and works in London, UK.