Max Wigram Gallery proudly announces a solo show of new works by Richard Wathen. The exhibition features four new paintings and a series of etchings made in collaboration with Paragon Press.
Richard Wathen paints seemingly traditional portraits of subjects often posing isolated against uniform backgrounds. His use of the vernacular language of portraiture lures the viewer into a false sense of security, recalling familiar subjects, techniques and composition. Initially recognisable, his paintings soon unravel their complexity and ambiguity. Characterized by a sense of uneasiness - strangely familiar yet haunting and difficult to grasp, Wathen’s exquisitely executed works ultimately reveal themselves as psychologically charged self-portraits, manifestations of the artist’s emotional urge.
Wathen’s engagingly familiar but teasingly elusive figures are drawn from a variety of different iconographic sources such as old books, photographic portraits, art historical references and snapshots. Gender and age are distorted by the use of disquieting details that dislocate the subject in time and place.
Florence is characterized by such ambiguity and belongs to Wathen’s recurrent theme of figures holding rabbits where the animal is emblematic of their sense of vulnerability. The Maker refers to the painting genre of the card player and can be conceived as the portrait of an artist. Here, the house of cards suggests the idea of something outside the painting, an odd, separated element, a sort of abstract painting within the painting, as it were. Alongside portraits Wathen has, in the past, painted landscapes pregnant with arrays of inconspicuous animals. Llareggub marks the artist’s return after three years to the landscape genre.
The prints exhibited on the second floor gallery are the result of a year-long project with Paragon Press. Richard Wathen’s forthcoming projects include solo shows at Salon 94 (New York) at the end of 2009 and L&M Arts (Los Angeles) in 2010.
Wathen (b. 1971, London, UK) lives and works in Norfolk. Since 2003 he has had solo exhibitions at Max Wigram Gallery, L&M Arts (NYC) and Salon 94 (NYC). He has taken part in group exhibitions in the UK and internationally including Old School at Hauser & Wirth Colnaghi (London) / Zwirner & Wirth (NYC), The Monty Hall Problem at Blum & Poe (Los Angeles), Silent Stories at Galerie Martin Janda (Vienna) and Britannia Works (curated by Katerina Gregos) at Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre & Xippas Gallery (Athens).