Born in Greenock, Alison Watt was one of the stars of the New Glasgow Boys and Girls, a group of young figurative artists trained at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1980s, who took the international art world by storm with their contemporary take on earlier masters. In 2000 she became the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Shift, which saw a move away from the figurative to depicting twelve monumental works depicting swathes of fabric. Watt went on to be associate artist at the National Gallery in London which culminated in her exhibition, Phantom. The Bathers is one of a series of paintings from the late 1980s involving bathing and water; Watt has a fear of water.
Oil on canvas
120 × 120 cm
143 × 143 × 4 cm
Signed bottom left
Ⓒ The Artist
Alison Watt OBE FRSE RSA, born 1965
Alison Watt, the daughter of the artist James Watt, was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire, and studied in the painting Department of Glasgow School of Art from 1983 to 1988. As a fourth-year student she came to public prominence by winning the John Player Portrait Award, which led to a commission from the National Portrait Gallery to paint a portrait of the Queen Mother. Watt's art is founded on the great traditions of painting - her heroes include Degas, Gwen John and James Cowie. She has used the language of figurative painting with great skill, often imitating the superficial effects of historical styles, yet her portraits and figure paintings are thoroughly modern. Watt's work also has certain parallels with the English tradition of figure painting, following on from William Coldstream and Lucian Freud, and is full of ambiguities, hidden significance and wit. Very often her figure paintings involve self-portraits.
Watt has exhibited widely in Britain since her first solo exhibition in 1990. She has won numerous prizes, and her work is represented in several museum collections.