Jenny Watson’s recent paintings are of girls: different girls in different situations. These girls are partly Watson’s alter ego, her childhood self, and partly about people in general.
In this exhibition we see Watson’s signature large-scale paintings on Belgian linen. Each, features a solitary figure and a high key palette, made using an assortment of haberdashery diamantes and cardboard cut-outs providing a counter to exquisite Japanese pigments, acrylic and rabbit skin glue.
Watson describes the three paintings as taking place in ‘non-specific spaces’ or fantasy worlds. Girl in a blindfold, is, as the name suggests, a child in a blindfold. Sleeping beauty, is a girl asleep on a fantasy bed, and Solar Treasure, a girl depicted from behind staring out at the universe. The expanse of green we see in Girl in a blindfold, suggests the countryside but beyond that we cannot be sure what is going on. Sleeping beauty is a pink fantasy interior of a sleeping chamber; it could be from a fairy-tale inside a castle with its ornate hot pink wallpaper and adorned bed linen. Likewise Solar Treasure with its dark purple sky, the stars, planets and moon invites the viewer to question the infinite expanse of the cosmos or as Watson calls it, “the whole other thing out there”.
Like Freud and Jung, Watson believes the child exists in all of us. For a long time her work has contained elements of this idea. It is evident in the unpretentious manner with which she paints and is reflected in her childlike, almost innocent palette and unmediated mark. Watson seems to look at the world through the eyes of a child, albeit a knowing or precocious child, and perhaps this is the quality we, as viewers, identify with because somehow her works make you feel you can smell the rain and feel the wind.
Jenny Watson is one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists. Exhibiting extensively since 1973, she represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1993. In 2003 Watson held a major solo exhibition at the Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan. Her work has been exhibited in prominent group exhibitions and biennales in Australia and overseas, including ‘Prospect 1993’ at the Shirn Kunsthalle and ‘Popism’, curated by Paul Taylor, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1982. Recently, Watson was included in Radical Romanticism at the CRANE International Project Space, Philadelphia (2015), Solitaire at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville (2014) and Mix Tape 1980’s: Appropriation, Subculture, Critical Style at the National Gallery of Victoria (2013).
Watson’s works are held in every major public collection in Australia as well as many notable international collections including the Ghent Museum, Belgium, Ulmer Museum, Germany, Museum of Yokohama, Japan and the Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan.
Jenny Watson has exhibited with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 1982.