Anna McNay

Interview with Alison Watt


Between Your Eye and Your Mind

Interview with Alison Watt

in the catalogue to accompany 

Alison Watt: The Sun Never Knew How Wonderful It Was


17 March – 7 May 2016


As someone depicting fabric with paint, how
important is the materiality of the paint itself to you? Do you work with
layers? Do you feel there is any analogy between the paint and the drapery
itself? In their trompe l’oeil nature, are your paintings seeking not just to
represent but to recreate or become?

I have an obsession with surface in my own work. I’m
really interested in how we read the surface of a painting and in how paint is
employed. Rubens created very different effects on the surface of his canvas.
If you look at the edge of the cloth that’s wrapped around Cupid’s shoulders,
for example, where it merges with and dissolves into the darkness, it almost
vibrates. There’s a kind of fizz, a kind of thrum on the surface of the canvas.
But that is in contrast with other areas of the painting, which are rounded and
bathed in light. The contrast of these two elements creates an incredible
pictorial drama. A tension and dynamism in relation to the weight and form.
That contrast had an effect on the way I used light and dark in my own
paintings. At the same time, however, there are passages of paint where the
shifts in tone are incredibly subtle. I wanted to make paintings that have an
almost marmoreal quality but, at the same time, possess a softness.

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