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Alison Watt

Alison Watt was born in Greenock in 1965 and studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1983-88. From 2006 to 2008, Watt was the Associate Artist at The National Gallery in London, an intense period of work culminating in the spectacular solo exhibition Phantom (2008) which explored her enduring fascination with one particular painting in their collection, Zurbaran’s ‘St. Francis in Meditation’ (1635-9).

Watt’s work first came to public attention in 1987 when she won the National Portrait Gallery’s coveted annual award and in the late 1980s and early 90s she became well known for her paintings of figures, often female nudes, in dryly painted, light-filled interiors. Watt’s exhibition Fold in 1997 at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery marked a turning point by introducing fabric alongside these figures, simultaneously suggesting a debt to the 19th century painter Ingres as well as pointing to the possibilities of abstraction. Shift, her exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art at the end of 2000, took these ideas a stage further still with 12 large works, each depicting swathes of fabric alone. These exquisitely painted canvases edge further towards the abstract yet had a strange, almost sexy quality which suggested a human presence, or at least absence. Shift was also significant as Watt was at that time the youngest female artist to be awarded a solo exhibition at SNGMA.

In 2008 Alison Watt had a solo show, Phantom, at The National Gallery, London presenting work produced during her time there as Associate Artist (2006-8) and was awarded an OBE in the same year. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in many prestigious public and private collections. Recent exhibitions include Dark Light, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh and Pier Art Gallery, Orkney (2007); Autoriatratto, Uffizi Gallery, Italy and Reflecting Glenfiddich, The Fleming Collection, London (2011). Alison Watt’s most recent exhibition at Ingleby Gallery Hiding in Full View ran from November 2011 to January 2012.

A significant exhibition of Watt’s currently presented by Perth Museum and Art Gallery as part of the Nationwide GENERATION programme of exhibitions; as well as a solo display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.


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