b. 1976 Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia
Oliver Watts is a contemporary painter whose work delves into the historical, psychological and material possibilities of painting. A sustained subject is a way individuals navigate the complexity of the contemporary world. Watts often represents familiar scenes, or painterly genres, and undermines or retells them to create images for a more anxious state of politics and society. The paintings equivocate between high seriousness and the farcical; between historical genres and pop; between tableaux and painterly surface.
Trained as an art historian and curator, Watts has consistently exhibited his paintings. He received his MFA from SCA in 2016 for a series entitled Cordelia/Fool which featured Eryn Jean Norvill as the main protagonist. Watts often uses actors to pose in his works and to collaborate as writers as well as models to help generate gestures and poses that animate the narratives. Watts sometimes uses literary sources from Shakespeare, to Kafka, to Country Road Advertising, that help describe how our identities are created in a contemporary society, and what pressures help form our relationships with others and produce our own self-identity. Watts was a lecturer at SCA between 2011-2017 and is now a curator at Artbank.