Janna Watson | Finding Joy

Janna Watson | Finding Joy
January 9 - 23, 2021
3045 Granville Street, Vancouver

Finding Joy, on view at Bau-Xi Vancouver from January 9-23, is the latest offering from the celebrated Canadian abstract painter Janna Watson.

Dedicated to and inspired by Joy, the artist’s three-year-old niece, Watson collapses pictorial and physical space to tell visual anecdotes of time spent together: “Hanging on Very Tight” recalls rocking on a toy horse, while “Everything is Spicy” evokes the sensation of eating a raw garden beet, and “Going Where I’m Going” captures the buoyant momentum of a balloon aloft. Throughout this series, Joy’s innocent spirit appears in deconstructed dresses, blonde curls and the back and forth motion of what she calls “lil’ wiggles and woggles.”

The process behind this body of work, and the simple, confetti-like shapes which appear as a recurring motif, spring from a video clip of Joy at play––free-spirited, fun-loving, and proud in a patterned red dress gifted to her by the artist. The related technique of block-colouring, an emerging aesthetic in Watson’s work, is given new emphasis to amplify the intensity of her pigments.

An intentional departure from the invisible “mush” of the subconscious seen in past abstractions, Watson’s new series is an escape from the bouts of seriousness and isolation that punctuate adult life. This new and different headspace is reflected in Watson’s most-recent work, which is playful, spontaneous, and imbued with delight. Bold palettes and emotionally charged gestures remain signatures of Watson’s hand, but the artist channels Joy’s childlike wildness to create fresh expressionist moments that are positively emotive and full of wonder.

“In a time where it’s hard to know what’s right and everything is so complex, I was drawn to the simplicity around Joy,” said Watson. “Sometimes life happens and we forget what it feels like to be free."


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