Paintings and Drawings
19 JUNE –
His desire to capture the visual sensation of exploring the Indian subcontinent has encouraged his use of collage in this latest body of work. Although he has experimented with collage at various times over the past two decades, this is the first time he has incorporated photographs into collaged images. The resulting works, with their abrupt pictorial fractures and severed planes, capture the intense and teeming chaos of the Indian urban environment, whose streets crowd the senses with myriad sights, smells and sounds. Each one holds within it aspects of many encounters and many moments with their resulting thoughts and responses.
His paintings resonate with the wonder of the human form, and these new works continue his fascination with representing the body. Sensual and intimate, yet bold and bright, with a consummate mastery of form and line, they reveal an artist who has matured into an exceptional and accomplished colourist.
A formal training with a heavy emphasis on life-drawing and anatomical studies has shaped both Watson’s work and his love of old masters. The fluid lines and contrasting tones of his earlier painting evoked comparisons with a wide range of figurative antecedents from Pontormo and Guercino to Whistler and Seurat. His treatment of this figurative tradition is now loosening up, and vibrant traces of a more modern idiom are appearing. These new works echo the loud brightness of West Coast painters like Diebenkorn and Thiebaud, with dreamlike glimpses of the human form eerily reminiscent of Bacon’s enclosed nudes.
Whilst the human body remains important, this work reflects the artist’s growing fascination with new approaches to picture making. For last year’s exhibition of prints and drawings, Watson taught himself the necessary skills to produce superb prints. His exploration of technique and composition continues, in parallel with his experiments in figuration and abstraction.
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