Oliver Watts

Oliver Watts


b. 1976 Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney

Oliver Watts’ paintings are rich in allusions from popular culture to the long history of painting and its various genres (portraiture, landscape, still life etc). His images borrow, steal and reuse visual culture. His work is contemporary in the way everything is equivalent and brought into play. He often stages reenactments of literature or art history using actors and other collaborators. The artifice of the image is also embodied by his gestural style of painting, mosaic-like and languid. Permeating his works is the Australian landscape, the heat of the sun, the crunch of the forests and the deafening sound of cicadas. Watts’ paintings are baroque, seductive, rich and complex.

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 was a lecturer at SCA between 2011-2017 and is now Head Curator of Artbank. He has been a finalist in many prizes including the Archibald Prize and the Helen Lempriere Travelling Scholarship. He is held in the National Museum of Australia, Artbank and the Reserve Bank collections. He was a founding member of the Chaser as a cartoonist and illustrator.

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