In his self-portraits, Williams creates painterly tableaux characterized by meticulous attention to texture, pattern, color, and composition. In one image the artist’s figure appears from the neck down. His body is shrouded in a shirt and a cape that is worn like a skirt. He is nearly indiscernible from the black fabric background that fills the frame. Williams’ veined hand pulls up the cape to reveal his bare legs, spread slightly, his fingers resting gently between them. In another, the artist and a man embrace, kissing through the fabric of black do-rags that, worn backwards, completely veil their faces.
The scenes are achingly intimate, pulsing with an energy and power generated by interweaving the sensuous and the political – the beauty of each picture complicated by a radical gesture. Williams’ unblinking gaze through the lens is reflected back at the viewer as it lingers on the contours of his own body, amplifying the sensations of desire and longing that activate the space between portrait and viewer. His performances for the camera assert visibility and vulnerability, insisting on an alternative pictorial and societal narrative in which Blackness and queerness are dominant, authorial voices.