The upcoming exhibition by Oliver Watts, The Retreat, at Chalk Horse is a series that focuses on places of seclusion and retreat. Although Watts has been working with this theme since 2017, the works resonate strongly in the circumstances we now find ourselves in.
The original conception of the show was to highlight expensive spaces that offer those that can afford it with places of quiet and reflection. In the age of the plague though the balance on the artistic equaliser shifted a little more towards ennui and melancholy. The paintings have not changed at all but looking at them in our current context these spaces are now doubly inaccessible and romantically set in the past. We cannot go to a restaurant, the Qantas Lounge is empty, massages are banned and two figures no longer stand so comfortably together.
Whether by fluke or design Watts has managed to capture the feeling of the time, our isolation and dream of love and sociality again. The works look both backward and forward, which is a characteristic of Watts work, and represents a serious addition to contemporary figurative painting.
This exhibition is open by appointment. Please contact the gallery for a suitable viewing time.