Tommy Watson | KOG Perspectives

The Kate Owen Gallery staff have had the pleasure and privilege to be surrounded by the art of Tommy Watson for the last couple of weeks during our stellar show Tommy Watson | Desert Legend. Here the KOG Crew share their insights, gush over their favourite pieces, and reflect on the legacy of this recently deceased master.


 A staff favourite


Like many indigenous artists Tommy Watson’s artworks are simply titled but refer to so much more than the title may suggest. ‘My Country’ (2013) is without a doubt one of the most unique Tommy Watson artworks I’ve seen. It captures everything; the physical veins of the landscape, vivid colours of earth, the sandhills, and the flora that sporadically trail and dot the land. It also manages to capture the intangible livid nature of the outback suggesting a forceful flow of energy.

In this unique artwork Tommy expresses his ‘country’ via an authoritive journey of chunky dots of fraught black and blue tonalities. The bright orange is arresting, vibrant against the darkness. The colours undulate around each other and dissolve into the painting, rendering the landscape pregnant with tension as though this is the nucleus of everything.

‘My Country’ can be interpreted as a tribute to mother nature, her harshness, overwhelming beauty and force. Showing the power and strength of the elements reflected in a physical state – the landscape from an aerial perspective.
Within the constraints of the linen Tommy has captured the raw energy of life.

Kirby Olave
Indigenous Art Consultant
Kate Owen Gallery


Tommy Watson’s fame


Tommy Watson was undeniably the most highly prized and collected artist in the Indigenous art movement for well over a decade. Watson’s prices reached dizzy heights of nearly a million dollars whilst painting and continue to blossom posthumously.
In 2006 Watson was selected for the Musee Qui du Branly in Paris, commissioned by Jacques Chirac – (then President of France) this was a milestone for the already established star of the world of modern art.

Watson’s highest auction record was reached in 2007 and stands at $240,000 including BP. The artwork titled ‘Waltitjatta’ (2006) measures 204 x 251cm – by no means a small work but in the grand scheme of things – and dwarfed by the prices reached through private treaty in the last 5 years.

Watson’s artworks are enigmatic, capturing dreaming’s that in his words, “can be traced back to the end of the ice age and beyond.” These artworks will vanish soon enough, like the melting ice at the end of the ice age.

A selection of Tommy’s largest and most important works have been collected and left to mature somewhat - hidden from the public and institutions alike. ‘Scarcity’ and ‘rarity’ are words often casually thrown around in context of a great artist’s works but in the case of Tommy Watson’s largest artworks, we are yet to see the full impact of a market that cannot quench their thirst fast enough.

Daniel Goldshaft
Senior indigenous art consultant
Kate Owen Gallery


A quiet moment with Tommy Watson


Tommy Watson | Desert Legend is on display in our third level collectors gallery, which perches on the corner of the major intersection of Victoria and Darling Road, in the old York Building in Rozelle. It’s a fabulous open space that’s just perfect for major exhibitions, and the sunlight floods the room throughout the day.

Whilst Kate Owen Gallery has had some major shows on display in this space, for me, this one has completely hypnotized me. Being in the presence of one Tommy Watson artwork is enthralling, so you can imagine what it must do to your senses to be completely enveloped by Tommy’s rhythmical paint and sensual depictions of Country. It is a wonderful feeling, and I am acutely aware it is a phenomenal  rarity to be graced with this each day I come to ‘work’.

I have actually found myself getting in to a bit of a new ‘morning routine’ since the Tommy Watson exhibition began - I’ve taken to having my morning coffee not at my desk, but upstairs in the top gallery space.  As I enter the space the hustle and bustle on the city street below completely washes away, and as the sunlight begins to saturate the space, the artworks begin to sing. This quiet moment with Tommy Watson’s artistic genius is something I cherish.

I encourage everyone to take a moment out of their busy lives to experience this exhibition !

Elizabeth Geyer
Media, Digital Marketing & Communications
Kate Owen Gallery


Museum Quality Artworks

It goes without saying that the paintings by Tommy Watson featured in our exhibition are sublime, many of them never exhibited before and a body of work that truly represents the depth of Tommy’s knowledge, respect for ‘Country’ and artistic skill.    
 
On a personal note, I found that talking with Ken McGregor who had a close relationship with Tommy, gave me a glimpse of the man, who in the tradition of the Aboriginal stockman, yet a traditional elder, found “voice on canvas” at a later age.
 
It would make perfect sense to me and be completely appropriate if some of the incredible works in the exhibition found their way to Australian Art Institutions where they could be shared with the public.   His work is already on display in the Musee du quai Branly in Paris where the great spiritual heritage of the Australian Indigenous people is celebrated and promoted, surely it’s time for Australia to follow suit …..  

Surrey Webb
Senior indigenous art consultant
Kate Owen Gallery


Add comment

biuquote
  • Comment
  • Preview
Loading