Jenny Watson
Definitions: Velvet + Text

Definitions: Velvet + Text
, 2018
Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photography: Zan Wimberley.
Click to enlarge

Made in Japan, these are the first paintings on red velvet since Jenny Watson’s ‘Paintings with Veils & False Tails’ in the Australian Pavilion, at the Venice Biennale in 1993. Now, following her comprehensive survey exhibition Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy’, at the MCA and Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2017, Watson continues her ongoing exploration of the interactions of text and image.

Here she has drawn on familiar imagery. Boyband is reminiscent of her 1977 portraits of Nick Cave’s first band, The Boys Next Door; Planet of the Apes, reflects her personal connection to horses as a dressage rider; Girl in Sneakers, the revisiting of girlhood and Bird, her recent interest in the behaviour of birds. These distilled images are randomly juxtaposed against diaristic text panels, creating an imaginative space for the viewer to interrogate the artist’s intent and engage in reflection and analysis.

In a formal sense, Watson abandoned the pictorial grid long ago, leaving behind her realist beginnings and adopting the conceptual style of the idiosyncratic loose brush strokes she has become renowned for over the past four decades. There nevertheless remains a grid-like structure behind the work upon which key motifs are placed and revisited to conjure memories linked to emotional states. This grid is like a flexible web, lacking the rigid support of the axis of time, allowing the past, the present and the future to overlap. Mining her own fantasies and experiences, Watson’s imagery does not follow a linear progression. There is a sense of the time slippage that occurs in dreams and memory as motifs are repeatedly revisited and remain in a state of flux.

Jenny Watson

Boyband
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: “A friend didn’t like making desserts But she said that every night when they were watching TV, they had a piece of dark chocolate. It sounded so cosy!”
144 x 87 cm; panel 27.3 x 22 cm

Jenny Watson

White Cat
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: “I went to a zoo. I really don’t think I can do that again”
144 x 90 cm; panel 21 x 14.8 cm

Jenny Watson

Bird
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: “It was raining in Tokyo”
144 x 99.5 cm; panel 27.3 x 19 cm

Jenny Watson

Planet of the Apes
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: “An orchestra was on television”
144 x 81 cm; panel 18 x 14 cm

Jenny Watson

Skater
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: “She was in the city and ran into an old friend. In chatting they discovered that they would soon be in the same European city on the same day. They arranged to meet”
144 x 90 cm; panel 29.6 x 42 cm

Jenny Watson

Girl in Sneakers
, 2017
Oil and acrylic on red velvet; acrylic on panel
Text: "On arriving in a new town, I always bought a new mascara (maybelline)"
144 x 110.5 cm; panel 33.3 x 24.2 cm