JAMES WATKINS

Presented by Ambar Quijano at Casa Astrónoma, Future Paradise is James Watkins’ debut solo show in Mexico. Imbued with a reverence for the natural world, his new home in Latin America and the art of ancient civilisations, this latest body of work is rich with fauna, flora and fingerprints where seed-spreading hands meet celestial bodies and metaphorical offerings of plenty. These symbols of abundance all float in dialogue with bodily elements in constant flux, resulting in visual ecosystems hinting at the interconnected foundations of our reality.

Watkins creates images that invite prolonged examination, imaginative interpretations and discovery. From this perspective, there is a dynamic macro and micro effect when engaging with the paintings that reflect upon the ways in which visual structures and patterns are mirrored throughout nature. Watkins’ approach is at first immediate, intuitive and impulsive, embracing a physicality that remains palpable even upon the image’s resolution. Working simply from visual memory, he approaches every new painting without a set agenda, prioritising a sense of liberation and surprise that only comes for him ‘by letting the painting reveal itself’. A call-and-response process that subdues hesitation and welcomes visual tension, exalting action and the joyful experience of colour and movement. + Read more

Watkins’ mixed-media work exists as a physical record of both his bodily exertions and extended subconscious journeys, narrated by layer upon layer of energetic mark-making that embraces both primal and childlike sensibilities. Returning to the same surface over extended periods of time: scraping, sanding, abandoning, adding and subtracting allows the disclosure of subtle variations where the surface develops unique histories and unpredictable interactions. With traces from the past still visible in the present, Watkins exposes previous versions of the paintings and himself, with his work taking on an archaeological attitude, both to the surface of his paintings and his subconscious– perhaps a metaphor for the forgotten stories and sensory information that lies beneath the surface of our everyday states of mind.

Through this exhibition, Watkins challenges the idea of paradise, long associated with something external, somewhere to travel to, a physical destination. In doing so, the observing eyes placed throughout his paintings turn inwards and speak of an integrated vision of reality, as he considers the birth of paradise as something that begins in one’s own mind. This approach maintains that we are not passive observers of the natural world, but are a part of it– intimately linked to the rhythms of infinite systems, both internal and external, the comprehension of which may forever lie beyond rational thought, in the realm of mystery and sensation.

JAMES WATKINS (b. 1984, Oxford) grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and currently lives and works in Mexico City. He has lived and exhibited internationally in London, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne & Istanbul. + Read less

Watkins’ mixed-media work exists as a physical record of both his bodily exertions and extended contemplative journeys, narrated by layer upon layer of energetic mark-making that embraces both primal and childlike sensibilities… Scraping, sanding, abandoning, adding and subtracting allows the disclosure of subtle variations where the surface develops unique histories and unpredictable interactions. 

 

With traces from the past still visible in the present, Watkins exposes previous versions of the paintings and himself, with his work taking on an archaeological attitude, both to the surface of his paintings and his subconscious.

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Watkins’ approach maintains that we are not passive observers of the natural world, but are a part of it– intimately linked to the rhythms of infinite systems, both internal and external, the comprehension of which may forever lie beyond rational thought, in the realm of mystery and sensation.

ARTWORKS

JAMES WATKINS

Future paradise, 2023
Oil, acrylic, oil pastel, soft pastel & charcoal on canvas
130 x 160 cm

JAMES WATKINS

There’s enough for everyone, 2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, charcoal & wax pastel on canvas
130 x 160 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Forever Love, 2023
Oil stick, oil, acrylic, soft pastel & oil pastel on canvas
130 x 160 cm 

JAMES WATKINS

Cosmic Strawberry (let me taste your), 2023
Oil, acrylic, oil pastel, soft pastel & charcoal on canvas
130 x 160 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Hot dreams, 2023
Oil pastel, acrylic, charcoal & wax pastel on canvas
100 x 120 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Pollination (the pink one), 2022
Acrylic, charcoal & oil pastel on canvas
130 x 160 cm 

JAMES WATKINS

Realistic magic (unearthed), 2022
Acrylic, oil pastel, wax pastel, charcoal & oil stick on canvas
100 x 120 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Serious moonlight, 2023
Oil, oil stick, acrylic, soft pastel & oil pastel on canvas
79.5 x 99.5 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Grow your own, 2023
Acrylic, oil pastel & soft pastel on canvas
100 x 120 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Wave to the aviary, 2023
Acrylic, oil pastel, oil stick, charcoal & wax pastel on canvas
100 x 120 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Words that rhyme with oasis, 2022
Acrylic & charcoal on canvas
45 x 60 cm

JAMES WATKINS

At the centre of it all, 2023
Oil stick, oil pastel & acrylic on canvas
45 x 60 cm

JAMES WATKINS

Hill, 2022
Acrylic & charcoal on canvas
30 x 40 cm

JAMES WATKINS

La primera primavera, 2023
Oil stick, oil pastel & acrylic on canvas
45 x 60 cm

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