Jen­ny Watson
Take Five

17th February – 28th March 2024
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Jen­ny Wat­son writes, An exhi­bi­tion of 5 paint­ings is a good num­ber, more inti­mate than a larg­er pre­sen­ta­tion of work. The title while refer­ring to the num­ber exhib­it­ed, also has spe­cif­ic con­no­ta­tions for each paint­ing. I am not a jazz afi­ciona­do, but the exhi­bi­tion title draws on a child­hood mem­o­ry. In the ear­ly 1960’s a rel­a­tive used to play Dave Brubeck Quar­tet records. 

Serendip­i­tous­ly I once met an Eng­lish woman who had been very good friends with Brubeck’s son, Chris. She told me that the inspi­ra­tion for the tune Take Five and its uncom­mon 54 time sig­na­ture came from the per­sis­tent drip­ping of a tap on a water tank in California.”

These five paint­ings con­tin­ue and expand Watson’s diaris­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of her life as an artist, indi­vis­i­ble from her life itself, in its geog­ra­phy, its dreams, its fan­tasies and imag­in­ings, its fears and its mem­o­ries. Girl Danc­ing to a Record Play­er express­es the irre­press­ible joy of teenage life, even with­in the con­straints of sub­ur­bia. It acknowl­edges Watson’s own sense of imag­i­na­tion and glam­our that would play in ani­mat­ing her life to come. Her child­hood bed­room, Bed­room Mont Albert 1962, becomes as big as the world in antic­i­pa­tion, or in ret­ro­spec­tion of her world wide career. Cloaked by a Black­bird express­es the myth­ic capac­i­ty of Wat­son, to enter the world of psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic dreams and sym­bols. Her close asso­ci­a­tion wth the nat­ur­al world finds rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the endow­ing of the bird a giant pres­ence; its pro­tec­tion of her self. Win­ter direct­ly por­trays the artist in her nat­ur­al set­ting, her horse pad­dock, her pos­ture echo­ing her horse’s, how­ev­er her con­cen­tra­tion on her device is per­haps trans­port­ing her to her oth­er life. Cor­ner of Broad­way and Prince Street New York 1991 rep­re­sents the fore­bod­ing enor­mi­ty of the city and the chal­lenge that the artist invoked in enter­ing the inter­na­tion­al are­na with her paintings.

Since exhibit­ing Jen­ny Wat­son at Anna Schwartz Gallery’s first ini­tia­tive, Unit­ed Artists in 1986, the explo­rations of the themes in her paint­ings have made her a major fig­ure in the world of inter­na­tion­al paint­ing, high­ly val­ued for her inno­va­tion in paint­ing itself, her min­i­mal­ist fig­u­ra­tion, her abstract organ­ic planes of psy­cho­log­i­cal colour and her sear­ing por­tray­al of her self, the artist, in the world.