George Widener was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1962. Even as a child, he would transform the numbers around him (a license plate, a house number) into dates. This evolved into an intense fascination with calendars, historical events, numerical systems, and the ebb and flow of time. These fixations are heightened, or perhaps caused, by Widener’s Asperger’s syndrome and the inherent lighting calculation, memory, and drawing skills that are associated with it.
Throughout his career, the artist has created distinct bodies of work that represent the depth and versatility of his visual and conceptual toolbox: from his Titanic works and Megalopolises to his Crispr and Pi works, from his Magic Circles and Magic Squares to his Self-Portrait series.
The group of works included in Mindscapes presents a series of expressive vignettes capturing the traffic and chaos of modern cities, which Widener experienced during past travels to Europe and Asia. Using his innate eidetic memory—the ability to recall an image from memory with great precision—Widener conjures these scenes with ink and charcoal, employing densely rendered and overlapping networks of lines. The small format of these drawings allows the artist to work quickly and spontaneously; the recurring date panels at the bottom of each work capture a unique aspect of his interior life (that of a calendar savant), as he counts dates to calm himself down amid the urban turmoil. The picture plane thus encompasses a central dichotomy: the figurative cityscape and the abstract dimension of numbers; the collective buzz of the of the city against the cadence of the artist’s mind.
Widener’s work is in private and museum collections worldwide, including the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago, the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands, the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, the abcd/ ART BRUT collection and the Centre Pompidou, both in Paris.