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Perpetual Twilight

A solo exhibition by Michael Watson

April 5th - 28th, 2024

Opening Reception: April 5th, 7-9pm

Blue has no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions. (Yves Klein)


Perpetual Twilight, Michael Watson's latest series of mixed media works, incorporates abstract, expressive paintings on paper with landscape photography produced by both the artist and his grandfather. Working primarily with blue for its inherent metaphysical qualities, Watson recontextualizes these serene images to question the stability of our memories and our need to reorder or fictionalize the past to fit our current selves.


Following his grandfather’s death, Watson spent a year digitizing a box of slides he took during his tour in Guam and travels across the West in the 1960s with the intent of using them in his own work as a form of memorialization. A gnawing question sits at the heart of mourning: “Where did they go?” In this series, Watson explores a belief that after we die, we return to our favorite memory and live it repeatedly. For Watson, the process of working with his grandfather’s photography gave him the space to embody his grandfather’s experiences and see the world from his perspective. 


The series also includes photographs Watson took of Stryno, a small Danish island. He was especially struck by the immensity of the surrounding water in relation to the pastoral landscape. “My footing was insignificant to what I could not traverse. The water became imperceptible, immaterial, and I was on the edge of it.”


Twilight is the moment when dark and light intertwine.  Similarly, Watson’s layered paintings blur photographs and brushstroke, memory and fiction. As light hits the lowest atmosphere during twilight an explosion of color occurs, marked by pink clouds and golden light. This display of warmth is followed by cooler tones created as darkness consumes the upper atmosphere. There, deep blue hues are the last remnants of daylight as they overlap the vast cosmos beyond. Veiling the universe, color acts as the grounding intermediary between our footing and the unknown. Watson uses a similar technique, applying blue washes to elevate the similarities in his grandfather’s photography and his own experience of Stryno. Since twilight happens twice a day, you could perceive death as a setting or a rising sun, an end or a beginning. 

In Perpetual Twilight, Watson confronts the uncertainty of mourning head-on. By fusing abstraction and photography, the work posits that we may never have a conclusive answer to what happens after death. Like walking in shallow water, eventually you reach the cliff's edge. Do you walk back, or do you step off into the dark blue water unsure of how deep it goes? 

About the artist

Watson's process based paintings, sculptures, installations, and performance embrace destructive and regenerative processes relying on experimental modes of production such as improvisation, destabilization and chance. He engages with found objects and natural materials such as plywood, rice and fire to mine the interstitial spaces of being, substance and imperceptibility through the use of rice and other materials as a substitute for the body.


Michael Watson's individual and collaborative work has been exhibited throughout the US including the Greenville Museum of Art (2021 - 2022), Hunterdon Art Museum, NJ (2017), Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, NY (2015,16), Brooklyn Museum (2014-15), SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA (2014), Ideas City Festival via AiOP affiliated with The New Museum (2013), The Kitchen, NYC (2013), Governor’s Island Art Fair, NYC (2012/13), and the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN (2006). His residency experience includes Arts, Letters and Numbers, Averill Park NY (2017), AIR Program 4heads Organization, NYC (2013) and the New York Studio Program, NYC (2006). His work can be found in several publications including Caddisfly Project Volume 4, The Seeds of Creation: Art and Spirituality (2021), Gwan Anthology: Volume Two, Forward Comix (2020), and The Seeds of Creation: Artists During the 2020 Pandemic (2020). Currently, he is participating in the ChaShaMa studio program in New York City.


Watson received an MFA in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design (2013) and a BFA in Painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati (2006).

Photos by Giovana Schluter Nunes

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