David Watkins: Simultaneous Participation

David Watkins: Simultaneous Participation
11th December


11 December 2015 – 14 February 2016

Firstsite and Essex Network of Artists’ Studios are delighted to present the first solo presentation of David Watkins’ work in the county, and the final installment of the Studio Shots programme. 

Mapping the internet gives it a form, even though it is simply a mass network of billions of interconnected computers. It’s this amorphous and intangible ‘space’ that David attempts to record within his work, drawing parallels between these new internet systems and 20th century scientific developments such as string theory, characterised by common features such as clustering and weak or strong links.

This translates into a visual language that is diagrammatic at first. The use of background grids enables David to begin with a structure that he can then begin to dismantle; an old language approach to a new language phenomenon. These paintings and drawings seek to take formal qualities of abstraction – line, shape and colour – and give them a shake, scattering and stretching connections and references which give the resulting works a sense of tension and movement.

They could also be read as a metaphor for an individual’s autonomy within a system, and our attempts to make sense of the structures within which we do/ don’t choose to operate. The title of the exhibition, 'Simultaneous Participation' implies a chaos borne of everyone trying to do thesame thing, but differently. David undertakes a process of erasure in building up his picture surface. After continued reworking these paintings and drawings gain enough character to stand up for themselves on the gallery wall. Within the gallery’s swooping walls and cavernous ceilings, these works have space to breathe and to reflect their surroundings.

Despite the profound references at work, these works are also playful. The viewer is invited, in ‘reading’ the pictures, to inhabit that actions that are involved in their making - dripping, pouring, squishing, stretching. The geometric shapes that cascade across the paintings and drawings interrupt the network and connections, almost like the flippers of pinball machines which refract the lines elsewhere to form new connections.

David will produce a publication to support this exhibition. This is a new development for David’s practice, which reflects on scale and touch and traditional, but not outmoded, means of sharing information. An essay by independent curator Warren Harper will seek to provide further context for David’s work.

Artist Biography

David Watkins (born Rochford, 1972) is an artist based at TAP studios in Southend, where he is a member of the steering committee. He studied painting at the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Buffalo in New York. His work has been included in selected exhibitions: Focal Point Gallery, Southend; The Gibberd Gallery, Harlow; Surface Gallery, Nottingham; Southbank Centre, London; Lapinlahti Art Museum, Finland.