Alison Watt’s work often interrogates the genre of still life, specifically the technique of trompe-l’oeil, a style that depicts objects in such realistic detail it ‘deceives the eye’. Her paintings negotiate a position close to abstraction, yet they are firmly rooted in her studies of drapery, light, the human form and old master paintings and sculpture.
Her starting point for Warrender, 2016 began with an extended meditation upon the only known painting by Thomas Warrender (1662–c.1715), Still-life, which is on display at the Scottish National Gallery. This work illustrates a letter rack holding items such as feathers, envelopes and folded pieces of paper. Watt’s painting depicts a sheet of crisp white paper, creased as if it has been neatly folded twice. While it initially appears to be monochrome, closer inspection reveals it to be full of delicate modulations of colour and light, articulated through Watt’s carefully worked surface. It summons a sense of calm and familiarity, while on the other hand creating an air of mystery: a blank sheet of paper that seems to invite the viewer to pen their own message, a story untold.
- Artwork Details: 122 x 91.5cm
- Material description: Oil on canvas
- Credit line: © the artist. Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund. Image courtesy of the artist and Parafin, London
- Medium: Painting
- Accession number: ACC29/2019