L&M Arts is pleased to present Inter + Vista, an exhibition of new work by artist Jonathan Wateridge. For his inaugural exhibition in Los Angeles, Wateridge divides the two galleries into distinct groupings, pairing his formal, densely structured paintings in one space and his more organic, lyrical canvases in the other. Together, they present a gamut of painterly problems, representing the artist’s current exploration into the relationship of this traditional medium to the shifting images of contemporary life.
Continuing his practice of building life-sized sets as maquettes for his work, for this exhibition Wateridge explores the microcosmic details of these scenes. His new works focus on the slight, even banal, gestures that, when removed from a narrative context, provide visual insight into our collective aesthetic. In Boy on Wall (2012), the curvilinear flesh of the boy peering over a wall clashes with the austere, brutalist architecture of the man-made structure he climbs. Together, they form a cohesive palette of oft-conflicting tendencies in modern painting- realism and formalism- challenging their categorical separation and arguing that a bridge between the two can be found within the medium.
Wateridge further marries the techniques of painting with the conditions of the natural world, using elements such as fog and glass to abstract the images. Evident in such works as Fog (2012), the familiar silhouettes of the women on the rocks are distanced from a realistic depiction by a blurring cloud of wet air. In Glass Doors (2012), the outlines of the figures are distorted by thick panes of glass, put into motion as the characters pass through the doors.
Using a de-saturated palette, Wateridge creates distance between the viewer and these common, relatable events. We often see the subject in a voyeuristic manner, as if we are catching them in an odd moment. A woman quickly removes her coat before entering an elevator in Lift II (2012) and an old man peers through the curtains depicted in Blind (2012). In both works we view the subject from behind, as if they do not know they are being watched. Wateridge explains:
My hope is that by paring back context and gesture and by heightening the staged simplicity of the environments, narrative and meaning are actually opened up. These paintings cross reference each other both formally and narratively in richer ways than some of the more notionally connected images that I've previously made.
Jonathan Wateridge was born in Zambia and attended the Glasgow School of Art. He work has been shown extensively, including exhibitions at The Saatchi Gallery, Francois Pinault Foundation's Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and All Visual Arts in London. He lives and works in London.