Biography/Artist Statement

Alan Watson Artist Biography

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Alan Watson is a painter, photographer, assemblage artist and printmaker. He was born in Detroit and raised in nearby Redford Township. Watson’s family appreciated culture. After seeing his father take art classes, Watson started painting himself. His first subject was impressionist style landscapes. Later, as a teenager, he developed an interest in abstraction. He also began exhibiting in galleries at age 18. His love of painting led him to choosing art as a career.

Watson recieved a BFA from Wayne State University in 1990. It was at Wayne that Watson developed his signature “pull tape” technique that he employs in his abstract paintings to this day. While comleting a painting assignment about shape and form, he was inspired by the clean lines left on the canvas after the tape was removed. After experimenting with the ways that tape created negative and positive space, he began incorporating factory made stickers into his painting process. This inclusion of “ready-made” objects opened up further possibilities to create interesting shapes and effects. He developed this technique further while getting his MFA from Wishita State University in Kansas.

Over his artistic career, Watson has shown in galleries across the midwest and is represented in collections nationwide. He has also worked as a painting and drawing instructor. Currently, his work is informed by the experience of living in Michigan. In his work, he combines the post-industrial grittiness of the inner-city with the natural beauty of the Great Lakes. His works embody the paradoxical nature of the Michigan experience.

Artist’s Statement

One of the essential facts of our human condition is that we manufacture neither our bodies nor our brains. Nevertheless, it is from out of these physical things that we create our hopes, our dreams, and indeed our selves. My mixed-media paintings are designed in sympathy with this basic fact:  for each composition begins with elements that I did not self-manufacture but nonetheless manipulate to my own creative ends. These elements are usually “found” objects that no longer represent their original purpose in the world but are now employed for their shape, color, or texture.

Sometimes the objects remain wedded to the surface of the painting; at other times they are removed once their new-found purpose has been achieved. The latter technique is employed with such things as masking tape or factory -made stickers. Some of the shapes employed may be common symbols, such as stars, moons, grids, spirals, or even figures. Examples of objects that would remain in the painting include such things as drywall tape, broken toys, or pieces of tile.

I welcome various semiotic, socio-political, or metaphysical interpretations of my work but feel that these things are best left for the viewer to decide. For me, the main event is always the existential metaphor outlined above. As for formal matters, I generally like bold, vigorous colors and a variety of assertive textures. My compositions inevitably dwell in the realm of asymmetrical balance although I enjoy pushing them to the far boundaries of that domain. Unity in diversity is a challenge, not a compromise.