31.Jan.04 - 29.Feb.04
Via dei prefetti, 17
After his first solo exhibition in Rome in 1999, and his important participation in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York (2002) and in Documenta 11 in Kassel (2002), Ouattara Watts presents at the Magazzino d’Arte Moderna his most recent works: large scale canvases and a group of works on paper.
The work of Watts expresses the profound conviction that reality is governed by a cosmic order that establishes connections between all things; a principle he learned from the Senufo religion during his infancy in the Ivory Coast. His research into the secret laws of the occult and of secular wisdom was enriched by new stimuli during his stays in Paris and New York, the city in which he now resides.
The surfaces of his canvases evoke the alchemy process of transformation of material into thought and conscience. In the paintings, found objects, photographs, magic numbers and texts intertwine, through which Watts gives a voice to the archetypes of culture that are universal and belong to every individual. “Before looking at this work, listen to it,” suggests Watts.
“Some evoke alchemy or magic. But, this does not mean lead turns into gold. Art is mostly a transformation of our intellect, of our psyche through the use of materials. What I try to give through my paintings is another set of rules, hopefully enabling different approaches and different questions…”
“This visual plenitude, the complex mix of iconic, even cultic forms and popular imagery, and the combination of flat color and expressionistic brushwork speaks to the multicultural realities of late 20th-century world…” wrote Okwui Enwezor in the Documenta 11 catalogue.