Monday, December 17, 2012

New Acquisition

With the assistance of a grant from The Robert Salzer Foundation, Ararat Regional Art Gallery has acquired a major artwork by Jenny Watson called 'After a fashion, with bag'. Jenny Watson is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists with a 30 year practice that has seen her exhibit annually at prestigious galleries around the world. Jenny is known for her painting and mixed media work on fabric, which often combines text and script. Her diaristic art is sometimes knowingly child-like and expressionistic, and her use of colour and energetic mark-making heightens our empathy with her subjects.

From the early 1980s Jenny began painting on alternative materials such as hessian, velvet, cotton and taffeta. Her use of red velvet in her 1993 Venice Biennale exhibition is a notable example of the importance of fabric to her painting practice. She now mostly uses beautiful and distinctive fabrics - stretched or unstretched - as a support for her painting. However, the character of the fabric is never concealed, but instead contributes to the composition and brings what she calls a 'cultural quotient' to the work.

'After a fashion, with bag' is especially interesting in the way it explores the formal and conceptual significance of the textile support in painting. This makes some interesting connection to other contemporary works in the gallery’s permanent collection. The fabric featured in this artwork was purchased by Jenny on a visit to India in 2008-09. The image and text were painted on the fabric during her stay in India. The text panel reads: ‘I was staying in a big, old fashioned hotel in India. There were birds, like crows, but bluer, and some of them were quite tame. These ones came down to the pool to drink, and paddle, despite people sitting around.’

In August this year Jenny visited Ararat to present a talk about her work. Her visit coincided with the presentation of her suite of eight lithographs in the gallery’s ‘Recent Acquisitions’ exhibition. These prints were a gift of Landsborough sculptor, Kevin Free, who is Jenny’s brother-in-law. Jenny is also connected to Ararat through childhood memories and stories of her mother’s Ararat upbringing.

Jenny Watson’s 'After a fashion, with bag' will be presented for the first time at the gallery from 30 January 2013.

Image details: Jenny Watson, ‘After a fashion, with bag’ (2008-09), acrylic on rabbit skin glue primed cotton and silk pashmina, 82 x 94 cm & 179 x 130 cm, Purchased with the assistance of The Robert Salzer Foundation and annual Ararat Rural City Council allocation, 2012, Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.