We know little about William Crawford’s life. His drawings were discovered in an abandoned house in Oakland, California and can be traced back to the 1990s. The archive might have consisted of several notebooks, but the sequences seem to have been broken up over he years and reach us now in a fragmentary and fascinating collection of around 950 delicate pencil drawings on paper, some on the back of prison roasters, some signed, all of which convey an intense sense of sexual longing of a man behind bars and an urge to tell stories. All we have is the narrative contained in the work itself.
The drawings, which bring to mind the eroticism of Eric Stanton or Tom of Finland, show scantily dressed women, drug use, gang bang - forbidden things in closed off spaces - and a recurring figure: a black man with a short afro and a moustache as the "ladies' man" at the centre of events - presumably the artist William Crawford himself. Given the decoration of interiors, the hair dos and style of dress one can only guess that he might have come of age in the late 70s or early 80s.
The singular and original drawing style makes it enticing to submerge into the world before us: rooms shown from unusual angles, features that are hinted at or omitted, such as fingers, heads, pool tables or pieces of furniture. Geometrical detail and architectural subtleties define a space which serves not only as a backdrop to where the action unfolds: it is the scenario that makes things possible, more a dream than documentation, more fantasy than perversion - the mise en scène of a sexual reverie in which Crawford is king.