Jenny Watson is a leading Australian artist whose conceptual painting practice spans more than four decades. Curated by MCA Curator Anna Davis this survey exhibition features works from the 1970s to the present, including examples of Watson’s early realist paintings and drawings, and a number of key series of works on fabric.
Inspired by both punk and feminism, Watson’s work uses distilled imagery and abbreviated text to create an intimate interior world. She has travelled widely since the 1970s and employs textiles collected on her travels as the surface for many of her paintings, which also often include collaged materials such as images from magazines, horse’s hair, ribbons, bows and sequins. Many of Watson’s works feature self-portraits and alter egos, a cast of longhaired women, horses, ballerinas, rock guitarists and cats, who enact life’s ongoing psychodramas.
Intertwining autobiography and fiction, her work incorporates a diary-like voice that is delivered with deadpan wit and seems to relay the everyday experiences, dreams and desires of a self-proclaimed suburban girl. The relationship between text and image is central to her work, which frequently includes a small panel of hand painted text that sits alongside a larger image, undercutting or changing its meaning.