Born in 1985 in Melbourne, Australia, but of Egyptian descent, Williams has been painting (or documenting) a strange, fictitious community living off the coast of Victoria.
From his idyllic and remote studio hut in Victoria’s picturesque Dandenong Ranges Justin Williams reflects on and reacts to to the quirkiness of his relatively isolated surroundings finding intrigue and narrative in local folklore and the characters he comes across in an often eccentric and sometimes bizarre local populace. For him, these unique tales and characters prove to be more curious than fiction. From tales of a lone black panther that wanders the bush, to visits with gurus and other eccentrics with stories to tell come fantastical paintings that celebrate diversity and localism at once yet seem to reference some past time of myth and legend. Recently he has been thinking about these characters and their narrative in relation to his own personal history realising he is attracted to outsiders and the unknown partly because his own stories are complex and shrouded in the haze and mystery of moveable family memory.
“My grandparents are migrants from Egypt and moved to Australia during the war. Growing up in Australia I was never really aware of their full story and it was something that wasn’t discussed as if embarrassed by our heritage. Thus I have never fully felt I have a part of any certain group or social situation in my home town Melbourne. In these paintings I’m trying to depict both the transitions of my grandparents migration from Egypt to Australia, and also my own outsider feelings towards both the notations of place and time as well as hidden normality’s within groups and individuals. I wanted to ask myself why I am so fascinated with the characters and myths of my previous work and the lives they have decided to live outside of the norms of society and to do that I needed to look at myself and my history however blurry in relation to them.”