I met artist Ross Watson as any regular person would: I was sleeping in my car and had been getting turkey and cranberry sandwiches delivered to me every morning from a chef who I had slept with one drunken night before I got a telephone ultimatum from my mom: find a job, find a room and find a real boyfriend. Believe it or not, all of those things led me to meet Ross Watson.
With luck I found accommodation with four walls and angels for housemates (it was not a night spent later sleeping in my car). I met my real boyfriend and he took me over to Watson’s, who was a friend. He rang the bell, opened the door and led me through the artist's studio. So many paintings of nude men! I was astonished (I have to say, this emotion, astonishment, wasn’t hard for me to come by; I did regularly drink wine from a box in Australia).
Only years later would I realized just how remarkable the realism and the socio-cultural significance Watson was creating. With Champagne on ice (no box here!) we started talking. I would love to write all the wonderful things said between us that night but I got really drunk and forgot.
Recently, I decided it was time to get back in contact with the artist to try and get those answers back that the champagne stole from me that night.
Artparasites: You have been toted as the homoerotic painter of a generation, but there is much more to your paintings than just some beautiful (mostly) naked men. What else can you tell us about the inclusion of our modern society in your historical paintings, and how it is relevant to our future?
Ross Watson: Great art tells us something about the time in which it was created. It's important to me that In a hundred years, those looking at my artworks may learn about life, including communication, discrimination, isolation and social media in the early 21st Century.
APs: Who or what is your muse now?
RW: The polymath Stephen Fry. His knowledge of everything cultural is astonishing.
From Stephen Fry the list of celebrity models and porn stars, admirers and collectors continues, ranging from Elton John to the Australian Ministry, you know Watson is already an all-star; constantly hitting home-runs in the art world. Myself? I've taken many swings between the time I met Watson in Australia four years ago and now, before I actually hit that stitched pig-skinned ball called life. It seems I might have finally made it to first base on this journey and it's from here I can watch as Watson steps up the plate and swings, hitting every ball to a fanatic adoring crowd.
APs: The world is becoming very self centered and self absorbed, nothing can sum up the early 21st Century quite like the brand Apple. If an iPhone had fallen into the hands of Vermeer or Caravaggio with the information that is available to us now, would it have aided or destroyed their brilliance and ideas?
RW: There is evidence they both exploited the benefits of the camera obscura, a technical device, though no one (including me) could definitively answer your question. Like most things in life, it's very complex. I don't know about Siri being the new Leonardo, but it will certainly be interesting to reflect on this period in 20 years time.
I hope you can see the level of underlying tones in both life and the very paintings Watson creates. The bottom tones of hitting the pits; me sleeping in my car, the mid-tones of finding safe living and prosperity and the high-tones of being in love and accepting yourself. What about technology? It's the aid of electrical turpentine that helps it all unfold into a master work. Watson showed me that there was always more than meets the eye. Sexuality is a progression like the very technology we accept so readily, the space around us is a gallery and we, the creatures of both oil and flesh exhibiting.
Article by Tristan Boisvert
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