On April 25, Guyanese-American artist Arlington Weithers’s first New York City solo exhibition since 2006 opened at the David Richard Gallery in Chelsea. Weithers is little known to Guyanese at home since he left Guyana in 1969 as a young man and has mostly been away except for very short sojourns home (not exceeding three weeks) in 1973, 1977, 2001, and 2007.
Weithers was first pulled into art by an image that fascinated him as a child – a reproduction of a Denis Wiliams (1923 – 1998) self-portrait done while Williams was in Khartoum, Sudan. In the self-portrait, Weithers recalled that Williams wore “a white towel that was twisted on his head as a turban.” He noted that the towel also hung over Williams’ neck and shoulders. The drawing of Williams – his cousin – was in Weithers’ bedroom, and he recounted that he would “wake in the morning and gaze at this picture. [….]. In this exercise [I] was training my eyes to understand structure and form, positive and negative spaces.” These morning visual meditations were his “most immediate experience” with the art of Denis Williams. “At that time I still had no idea of how famous he was.” He recalled, however, that his own propensity for drawing well was explained as a hereditary trait by his mother.