Saturday, March 2, 2013

In the Studio With Craig Watson

The last we saw of the art of Craig Watson was way back in 2001 with his solo exhibition, Craig Wats,  at Momenta in Williamsburg.  That show featured his enigmatic unspecific objects most prominently his large European Work Bench.  Watson's work requires the kind of viewer which seems in short supply these days--cognizant of history and unseduced by the banalities of the spectacle. 

I remember visiting his studio years ago when it was on Metropolitan Avenue in the heart of the then burgeoning Williamsburg scene.  He lived there for over a decade until his landlord, a prominent New York abstract painter, decided that he wanted an even more obscene profit on his building (one of several he owned in the area).  Watson picked up and moved east--not East Williamsburg or Bushwick but  settled instead in the quiet corner of Ridgewood, Queens--a slice of Eastern Europe right off the M train.

His studio looked much like his previous one--another basement enterprise--and it was filled with some fascinating new work.  The first work that stood out were his hanging sculptures that recalled modernist skyscrapers and a kind of dystopic pall around them.  They are made up of metal (both painted and unpainted), wire and some colored blobby forms meant to recall public sculpture.  This work holds much promise not only for the way it is made and  looks but also because embedded in it is much of the current discourse around the unsustainability of current systems of capital.  The fact that these sculptures are hanging make them even more poignant.   

Also on view was his Double Happiness a new sculpture made of carved wood and painted black that resembles a kind of generic gas pump.  It features a decorative lattice evoking Chinese architectural motifs and here again the formal is subtly expanded to comment on bigger, larger concerns.  

Another work that struck me was a lovely hanging lamp that is made from galvanized electrical boxes that have been painted a luscious powder coated white. This work will be available in an edition directly from the artist's studio in the near future.


  1. "Also on view was his Double Happiness"
    Thought this might be Watson's performance art, but just another cool sculpture.