Homage to Cleofe

Text. Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow

Homage to Cleofe

Text. Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow

In a vibrant tapestry of contemporary art, the fusion of oil and acrylic on canvas emerges in the works by Mikey Watts as a compelling medium of expression, weaving together a diverse array of subjects and styles. The artist’s palette is a riot of primary and secondary colors, orchestrating symphonies that range from cityscapes to intimate portraits and geometric color abstractions. Mikey Watts’ exploration of color takes inspiration not only from European painting tradition but also from other influences, extending beyond Western art movements. The vibrant and exotic color palettes found in indigenous South American or Indian tapestries infuse his canvases with a kaleidoscopic energy. The artist draws from the mesmerizing hues present in these cultural textiles, incorporating the spirit of their color combinations into the very fabric of his work.

The canvases come alive with a pulsating energy, each small rectangle a microcosm of vibrant hues that seem to dance and vibrate in harmonious disarray or in certain works in carefully orchestrated sequences. These compositions draw parallels to the dynamism of Abstract Expressionism, channeling the bold experimental spirit reminiscent of artists like Wassily Kandinsky. The juxtaposition of colors becomes a visual language, communicating emotions and abstractions that transcend the tangible.

The city views, on the other hand, showcase a meticulous attention to detail, rendered with a precision that echoes the geometric rigor of Cubism. Carefully represented urban landscapes unfold in strict geometric forms, paying homage to the architectural vision of artists such as Juan Gris. The fusion of color within these urban scenes evokes the chromatic dynamism found in the works of the Fauvists, injecting a sense of pulsating life into the city’s rigid structures.

In the realm of portraiture, the artist employs a distinctive style, infusing the canvases with strong colors and rounded, wavy forms. The bodies depicted exude a warmth and passion, their curves and contours reminiscent of the sensuous portrayals by figurative expressionists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The use of color and form in the portraits also nods to the vibrant canvases of Alexej von Jawlensky, where emotional intensity is translated into bold, expressive strokes.

Ultimately, Mikey Watts’ mastery of oil and acrylic on canvas unveils a versatile oeuvre that bridges the realms of abstraction and representation. The experimental combinations of color and form evoke the spirit of various art movements, from the expressive gestures of Abstract Expressionism to the calculated geometries of Cubism, creating a visual dialogue that is both contemporary and deeply rooted in the rich tapestry of art history.

WORK LIST

1.

Homage to Cleofe, oil pastel on paper, 57 x 40, 2021

2. 

Ancient Sunlight, oil pastel on paper, 57 x 40, 2021

3.

Abstract Landscape, oil pastel on paper, 22 x 35, 2020

4. 

The Ark, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 70, 2023

5.

Rosenberg, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2020

6.

Whale Dream, oil pastel on paper, 57 x 40, 2012

7.

Homeless at night, oil pastel on paper, 40 x 57, 2020/21

8. 

Calle 22a con 17, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2019

9. 

Where the river meets the sea, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2018

10. 

Guambia spirals, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2018

11.

Calle 53 con 13 #2, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2014

12.

Addiewell sunset, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2014

13.

Dave, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 1999

14.

Tambam Claypod, oil pastel on paper, 57 x 40, 2011

15.

The tiger’s smile, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2002

16. 

Self portrait, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 1999

17.

Bogota view, oil pastel on paper, 36 x 36, 2019

18. 

53 con 13 #1, oil pastel on paper, 32 x 22, 2014

 

MIKEY WATTS. Artist’s Statement

I have always been fascinated by the way colours sit next to each other, and how what we see can be broken down into lines and curves. 

I work mainly with oil pastel.

My art has journeyed through an early interest in building layers of colour, texture and depth, to portraiture and landscape, and more recently geometry, perspective and telling stories. 

I paint landscapes and portraits instead of taking photos, as a way of remembering places I visit and people I love. 

I am also a documentary filmmaker. My eye is drawn to the patterns of shapes that can be found in a frame, to stories and people that help us understand a little bit more.

I find inspiration in the spirals of nature, the straight lines of the city, in people and conversation, in walking, in books, music and YouTube, in the art of others. 

I love the raw power of Van Gogh, Werner Herzog’s direct questioning, the complex faces of Rembrandt, the perfect fiction of Marilynne Robinson, Chagal’s dreamy blues, Robert Fisk’s pin-point journalism, the many styles of Picasso, Huun Huur Tu’s ancient sounds, the rough but perfect landscapes of Tom Thomson, Berthold Brecht’s urgent plays, the shamanic paintings of Brus Rubio, the modern geometry of Kari Bienert, Howie Wonder and Beatriz Milhazes. 

I paint because I need to and have always felt like this: as a child growing up with my mother by the river Penna in India and the river Thames in England; as a young man studying Latin America and then documentary film; and now in Bogota, where I live with my partner and our six-year old son.

BIO – MIKEY WATTS

Mikey Watts has always been fascinated by the way colours sit next to each other, and how what we see can be broken down into lines and curves. 

He works mainly with oil pastel.

His art has journeyed through an early interest in building layers of colour, texture and depth, to portraiture and landscape, and more recently geometry, perspective and telling stories. 

He paints landscapes and portraits instead of taking photos, as a way of remembering places he visits and people he loves. 

He finds inspiration in the spirals of nature, the straight lines of the city, in people and conversation, in walking, in books, music and YouTube, in the art of others. 

EXHIBITIONS 

  1. Barcovino (2022): A solo exhibition of 12 works curated within the Barcovino, a peniche in the French city of Angers. 
  2. Westbury People’s Gallery (2022): 4 aluminium prints of recent works in an outdoor exhibition open to the public in Oxford, UK
  3. The Holy Art Gallery (2021): 3 works selected for online exhibition.
  4. X-treme (2020): Five works were included in Lily Fürstenow’s online collection ‘X-treme e-mERGING artists’
  5. Artmenia (2018): A collection of works were included in the gallery ‘La Ferretería’ as part of the Artmenia festival in Bogotá, Colombia.
  6. LonArt (2013): Six paintings were included in the exhibition ‘Seeds of Creativity’ organized by LonArt in London, UK. 

PUBLICATIONS:

    1. Antigua luz de sol (2024): ‘Abstract Landscape’ will be used as the cover for the book of poet Stephen Watts’s poetry (translated to the Spanish language) to be published by Lobo Blanco Editores in 2024.
    2. Museo del Río Magdalena (2023): ‘Rowing the jungle’ included as one of 12 artworks selected for the Museo del Río Magdalena’s 2024 calendar. 
    3. I am not the gardener (2022): ‘Birla Mandir’ used as the cover for the book ‘Selected poems by Raj Bisaria’
    4. Convivium MMXX (2020): ‘Bogota lockdown’ was chosen for the cover of the poetry magazine ‘Convivium MMXX’

PERSONAL INFO:

Address: Calle 19 #3-03, Honda, Tolima, Colombia

Phone (WhatsApp): +57 3154133309

Email: mikeywattsfilm@gmail.com 

EDUCATION:

2008 – 2009  Royal Holloway University of London, TW20 0EX, Reino Unido

MA in Documentary by Practice (Pass with Merit)

2001 – 2005  University of Liverpool, L69 3BX, Reino Unido

BA Hons in Latin American Studies (2:1 with distinction in Spanish)

 

 

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