Eleanor Watson paints light-dappled rooms full of frills, finery and baroque detailing. Sometimes shadowy, sometimes ablaze in brilliant oranges, her paintings have the texture and atmostphere of memories – passionate, randomly detailed and with the occasional blank spot. Working from photographs, she recreates idealised, dreamlike spaces that seem familiar from museums and period dramas. In many of the paintings, humans are conspicuously absent, the emptiness allowing the spaces to tell their own stories. “I am interested in the distortion of a narrative, or of a potential narrative, which is intrinsic to an empty room,” she said in a recent interview.
She has described her style as “literary” and listens to audio books while working in her studio. Also important is the idea of what she calls “aspiration”: the spaces she depicts are sanctuaries, the kinds of places one fantasises about escaping to.
Still only 25, her work balances abstraction and figuration with a maturity that belies her age. Watson studied at Wimbledon College of Art where she won numerous prizes and, since graduating with a first in 2012, has continued to win the admiration of critics and collectors alike. If you want to see a Watson painting up close, and perhaps even buy one, she’s exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead from 11-14 June. Some of her larger works are also being displayed in the Young Masters Award travelling show.
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