Since the late 1990s, Alison Watt has explored ways of suggesting the human body by painting images of fabrics. The group of four paintings on show at Modern One are known collectively as the Shift series and appear to be abstract paintings. However, the folds, fall, hollows and stretch of the white fabric become evident. Watt was inspired by the work of artists such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780- 1867) and Francisco de Zurburán (1598 -1664) and the highly detailed way that these artists depicted the clothes of the figures in their paintings. She therefore moved away from her earlier approach and figure paintings and concentrated exclusively on the fabric itself.
The suggestions of the body hidden beneath the fabric are by turn moving and erotic. They are also meditations on light and shadow, on colour and texture, on surface and depth. In this way, they explore the physical qualities inherent in painting itself.
Watt was born in Greenock and studied at the Glasgow School of Art from 1983 to 1988. She was Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London from 2006 to 2008. She lives and works in Edinburgh