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Joan Watts: bodhi May 24 - June 26, 2018 Opening Reception: June 1st


bodhi


Each painting is a breath. Have you ever really felt a breath? Inhale. Slowly. Feel the texture of the air, cool through the nose, the slow expansion of belly, chest, throat. You are a three-dimensional being. You are connected to this invisible matrix that binds the world together. The world is inside you. Exhale, slowly. Chest falling, muscles letting go, the air leaving you, warmer now having taken a bit of your heat. You are falling outside yourself, released, part of the world. This is only the beginning of where the twenty paintings of the series, bodhi, by Joan Watts, are leading you. After two and a half years when physical limitations prohibited Joan Watts from painting as she was used to, Watts discovered a new mode of working which has allowed her to create a new series. No longer able to spend whole days in her studio, Watts required a reduction of the elements and variables used in her process. Brushes had to go. Her use of saw-horses had to change. Drawing inspiration from the meditative practice of Japanese calligraphy – where a practitioner will create a complex character in a single elegant movement - calling on years of both artistic and meditative practice, Watts was able to adapt her method of working into a heightened state of concentrated effort. In reducing her artistic process down to the bare essentials, Watts is, in effect, re-creating the experience of meditation on her canvases and panels. What is sitting meditation itself but a trimming down to essentials? Cut out the distractions, the extraneous noise. In the beginning, as meditation is often taught, the novice is told to merely follow her breath. In. Out. It is much harder than it sounds. Almost immediately thoughts, memories, emotions rise up. In meditation you are taught to recognize these thoughts and emotions and then let them go. The paintings of bodhi strip away distractions. A single color, a square format, gentle textural waves, a subtle fade into white. These paintings enact and guide us toward a meditative possibility. With their rising and expansive movement, they have an ability (if we are willing to give ourselves over to it) to lead us back into our own body, our breath. Color on the canvas pools, rises and fades, like a thought or an emotion inside us: roiling in, shading our mind, and then, with our exhalation, the thought too disappears into white. In Buddhist practice there is a tradition of koan study. Koans are rhetorical devices used as a way to help a student break through their mental constructs about the world and deepen their practice. Koans generally are, in some way, nonsensical, paradoxical. Like a koan, the series bodhi engages us in a process which is often paradoxical. Here what is presented has been paired down to a bare minimum, but simultaneously creates something richer, deeper, filled with almost infinite detail and possibility. What is simple, what is quiet, is potentially the gateway to a whirlwind. Paradoxes open a space in the world. They create a little crack in what we know (or think we know) that forces us to stop completely in our tracks. In addition to the exhibition at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, the work of the bodhi series is being celebrated in an elegant book published by Radius Books. The book contains gorgeous images and details of each the paintings, along with an essay about Watts and the series. The book is being launched in time with the exhibition – with copies available at the gallery. Watts’ work in bodhi is a gift of space and solitude, a small piece brought back from beyond and made tangible to lure us, to perhaps help show us how to make the journey for ourselves. Each painting is a breath. The first breath. The last breath. The world between them. -- Michaela Kahn


Joan Watts, bodhi 1, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 2, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 3, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 4, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 5, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 6, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 7, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 8, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 9, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 10, 2017, oil on board, 12 x 12 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 19, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 18, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 17, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 13, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 14, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 16, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 12, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 15, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 11, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


Joan Watts, bodhi 20, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches


CHARLOTTE JACKSON FINE ART 554 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | Tel 505.989.8688 | www.charlottejackson.com

Joan Watts: bodhi  

Each painting is a breath. Have you ever really felt a breath? Inhale. Slowly. Feel the texture of the air, cool through the nose, the slow...

Joan Watts: bodhi  

Each painting is a breath. Have you ever really felt a breath? Inhale. Slowly. Feel the texture of the air, cool through the nose, the slow...