Love Chant: Chris Watts

22 July - 27 August 2023

An avid traveler of a mixed ethnic background, which represents not just his identity but the diverse cultural fabric of his native United States of America, contemporary artist, Chris Watts, presents Love Chant wherein he uses alchemy and the ancient history of Peruvian pigments to investigate the relationship between Africans and Native Americans prior to Europe's cultural imposition. With bright purples, pinks, and oranges that burst and blend in luminous resin, this series of abstract works delve into folklore and ancient African deities. He investigates the collaborations between the gods of Africa and the gods of the ‘New World’ represented in a variety of cultural groups extending across North and South America. It is with the pigments he acquired during a trip to Peru, resin, among other materials, that he applies his interest in the alchemic properties of minerals and ancient traditions he learned during interactions with the local Shamans of the country.


As an articulation of his study of Abstraction and Expressionism, Love Chant, which is Watt's first solo exhibition in Europe, is also a nod to the work of German artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010). In the 1980s, Polke applied his experimental approach within his practice to a body of work that further explored his interest in alchemy. During that time, he created a set of five large-scale abstract works titled after a Native American proverb, “The Spirits that Lend Strength are Invisible”, which included materials like artificial resin with tellurium and nickel, among other minerals. He played with the mixing of materials and the potential chemical reactions these would produce as he was interested in what he described as the American Expressionist mystique. In Love Chant, Chris Watts picks up from Polke’s last work in the above-mentioned series to create an indefinite number of unique but similarly titled pieces based on his own alchemic interests and the search for these pigments’ full potential.


In this exhibition, Chris Watts plays with the way color may have the power to produce spiritual vibrations in people. Through bright bursts of pigments held within his trademark use of transparency and fabrics, he displays his intuitive understanding of color to explore how it can affect the psyche of people. How the color and scale of a work, may produce energy and a sense of spirituality. Unlike the impactful but more muted series of German artist, Sigmar Polke, Chris Watts’ biography and cultural background give a fresh, brighter, more contemporary approach to how we may interact with a cross-continent spiritual past. With the use of science and a deep love and understanding of color, Chris Watts will continue to push the alchemic potential of these Peruvian pigments until there are no more.


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Chris Watts (b. 1984 in North Carolina, USA) is an American painter and installation artist whose work interrogates social and personal narratives around embodiment, and understandings of the visible. Within his work, the artist seeks to analyze, re-examine and revise existing conventions by means of their abstract representation, and re-evaluation. He attended the MFA program at Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, the College of Arts and Architecture at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wroclaw, PL. The artist is a 2022-23 Soros Justice Fellow, and has held various artist residencies, among them the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation, Chelm, PL; McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, NC; the Art & Law Fellowship Program, at Cornell University Art Architecture Planning, New York, NY; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, New York, NY. His work has been exhibited in national and international institutions and exhibitions. Chris Watts lives and works in New York, NY, and North Carolina, USA.