A self-taught artist, William Scott’s practice imagines alternative realities that stem from a fundamental belief in the potential for positive human transformation. While deeply rooted in personal history, Scott’s paintings address broader questions of citizenship, community, and cultural memory. His portrait series of predominantly Black figures encompasses actors, musicians, politicians, and civil rights leaders, as well as self-portraits, family members, and women from the Baptist church he has attended since childhood.
Frequently describing himself as an architect, Scott reinvents the social topography of gentrified San Francisco, which emerges as the utopian ‘Praise Frisco’ in works that combine architectural design with civic responsibility. The proposals for new buildings, neighborhoods, and community centers describe his compelling desire for a more equitable society. While Scott’s paintings are hopeful and sincere, they equally confront loss and contemplate ideas of renewal and rebirth. His long-standing ‘Inner Limits’ series takes the form of spaceships designed to resurrect the dead to start new lives and bring peace to the earth via ‘Wholesome Encounters.’
Scott has had solo exhibitions at Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; Studio Voltaire, London; White Columns, New York; Ortuzar Projects, New York; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery and the Museum of Everything, London; BAMPFA, Berkeley; White Columns, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, and Ricco Maresca, New York; and Gallery Paule Anglim, Minnesota Street Project, and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; Oakland Museum of California; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“William Scott is among the most important artists working today. His profoundly empathetic paintings should be in the permanent collections of every contemporary art museum.” Matthew Higgs – Director/Chief Curator, White Columns