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Alison Watt

Alison Watt was born in Greenock in 1965 and studied at Glasgow School of Art. Her 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. Watt’s exhibition Fold in 1997 at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery marked a turning point by introducing fabric alongside these figures. This was followed by Shift in 2000, her solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which saw Watt move away from the figure and display a series of twelve large works depicting swathes of fabric. Her exquisitely painted canvases continue to edge further towards abstraction yet they still suggest a human presence or absence with a particular concern with the allure of negative space.

Watt’s residency as Associate Artist at The National Gallery, London culminated in the landmark solo exhibition Phantom in 2008, and she was awarded an OBE in the same year. Watt’s 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 (2010), Italy; Reflecting Glenfiddich, The Fleming Collection, London (2011) and Hiding in Full View, Ingleby Gallery (2011).

In 2014, as part of the nationwide programme of exhibitions, GENERATION: 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, a retrospective exhibition of Watt’s paintings was presented by Perth Museum and Art Gallery and a solo display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will run until January 2015. Watt’s work is also currently exhibited as part of the major group exhibition Reality: Modern & Contemporary British Painting at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich until March 2015.

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