Bau-Xi Gallery is proud to share that Janna Watson's solo exhibition, Melancholy Has A Day Job, marks the 10 year anniversary of exhibiting her work at the gallery. The exhibition is inspired by the artist’s late grandfather Arthur Bonnet, a seasoned artist who turned away from landscape painting in the 1940s and moved towards abstraction after studying at Pratt Institute in New York as Expressionism was making its way to Canada.
Watson expands upon her inspiration for the exhibition in the artist statement below:
"'Janna, I’d like you to go to the back and paint the essence of a tree. Make it abstract.' When I returned to show him what I created, he used to say to me time and time again 'It’s okay… but it needs to be wilder.' I was eight years old and loved hanging out with my grandfather, Arthur Bonnet. I am continuously inspired by Arthur’s fascination to make clashing colours work. Through his lessons, I remember him telling me 'I love things harmoniously ugly.' These words have stuck with me throughout my practice.
Painting wild and embracing 'different' has always been my primary focus. As I work through harmoniously ugly pigments, I feel like I’m communicating with my grandfather by painting independent and bold brushstrokes suspended in time and space. When I feel a painting is nearly complete, I like to use oil stick and ink as the final step to help ground the work, and as a personal reminder to paint wilder! These scribbles are my exclamation marks that finish each sentence.
Memories of Arthur were so present while I worked through this collection. He first taught me how to paint with watercolours and would buy me artist grade supplies (which I realized that I couldn’t afford when I was studying at OCAD!). To pay respect to his lessons, I incorporated lighter washes of paint across the panels. And after all of these years, I discovered that I intuitively prefer working on birch wood (rather than canvas) because the paint absorbs similarly to watercolour paper, and it highlights the material that it is painted on. In some cases, the washes are so thin that it emphasizes the woodgrain and flashbacks of painting the trees outback start flooding in.
This new series holds a special place in my heart. This collection is dedicated to the memory of Arthur Bonnet who would be celebrating his hundredth birthday this year."
-- Janna Watson
Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto is celebrating this exciting milestone by holding a special Opening Reception on Saturday, May 4th, from 2-4pm, at 340 Dundas Street West, with the artist in attendance.