NEW YORK, NY.-
Laura Watts newest series of paintings are presented in her second solo exhibition, Horizon Event, at David Richard Gallery
. There are several common threads that tie the series together and create a dialogue between pairs of paintings. First, the compositions are created by a layering of lines containing lozenge shapes (a recurring shape for the artist) with dynamic colors and juxtapositions to create geometric vectors or swirling spirals. Second, each painting has a literal or implied horizon line that immediately evokes landscapes, despite the preponderance of paintings in the vertical orientation. Three of the artworks are vertical diptychs with one panel over the other, thus creating the literal horizon line. There are also two very long horizontal paintings, each a triptych.
The strong reference to landscape was intentional by the artist. In a written statement, Watt said the following about the series, As I look at these nine paintings, it is pretty clear to me that one of my preoccupations here is landscape: vanishing landscapes, imagined landscapes, changed landscapes. And, to be more specific, how the last couple of years have totally changed the landscape. Covid narrowed and limited our horizons, shrunk our movement in the world, and now as we stumble out into the world again, a very different world is in place. Covid has changed how we can and cannot move through time space and the landscape. And it is a new landscape that we stumble about in now. A globe in crisis, and change, burning flooding, etc. Less garden, more desert, etc.
The interrelationships between the new paintings fall into three groupings that examine the macro, micro, and galactic aspects of both the landscape and world around us. Starting with the macro world, and the first painting executed in the series, Where We Once Were is bright, sunny and as the artist noted, the imagery is an idyllic and nostalgic look pack at a pre-Covid landscape. New Dawn is also a macro look at the landscape, specifically, a pair of horizontal paintings of the setting sun placed over the rising sun to create the vertical diptych. The lush, saturated colors remind the viewer of the immersive experience watching the two most spectacular events that bracket each day making the transition from day to night.
The four paintings with the spiral structures are Watts micro look at the landscape, inspired by waterlilies in a pond on the artists property. The narrowing of everyones world during covid is echoed in these detailed views of a small part of the artists life and view of the landscape during covid. The spirals are interpretations of the flowers while the palettes and grounds reference different times of day as well as specific landscape elements. The Waterlily paintings are large horizontal works measuring 24 x 115 inches and comprised of three separate panels. The two single canvas paintings are Locating Agnes, a nod to monochrome to turn down the color and focus on the structure and compositions, and Oh Happy Day, which is full-on color and a celebration.
The last pair of paintings, 1st Untitled for SW and 2nd Untitled for SW, are the artists shift to a galactic look beyond landscape. The multiple foci and points of perspective create an explosion of radiating vectors and beams of light from everywhere. Yet, these paintings have the literal horizon line noted above, as each is a diptych with two horizontal canvases one over the other. Along with the other cohesive compositional elements, lozenge shapes and palettes, this pair of pairs of paintings complete the progression from micro to macro and galactic views in a shrinking landscape in environmental turmoil.
Watts approaches her work by taking landscape, architectural, or personal influences and abstracting them through her use of geometry, unique visual vocabulary, and intuitive process. The result is taking something tangible and making it a non-objective, mostly geometrically inspired, abstraction open to multiple interpretations.
Laura Watt was born in Lancaster PA and currently lives and works in Garrison, NY. She studied at Bennington College and earned her MFA from Yale University. Watts paintings and drawings have been shown nationally and internationally including exhibitions at: MACA, Philadelphia; St. Josephs University, Philadelphia; Phillips Museum at Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster; State Museum of Pennsylvania; and Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster all in Pennsylvania; and Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield; New Haven Museum, New Haven; and Stamford Museum, Stamford all in Connecticut. Watt has also exhibited at McKenzie Fine Art, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Lesley Heller Workshop, Locks Gallery and numerous other galleries and institutions. Her artworks are in the collections of Lancaster Museum of Art and many private collections. Watt taught at Tyler School of Art for 5 years and presently sits on the board of the Vermont Studio Center.