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Art Fairs — 2020
Unified by a monochromatic sensibility, cracks, creases, folds and absences are the elements that connect Fernando Casasempere and Alison Watt's work for ARCOMadrid. While employing different mediums, both artists reveal the powerful human presence that remains concealed in the objects, fabrics and landscapes we inhabit. This quasi-abstract exploration of traces and remnants is addressed by Casasempere with sculptures that reference remote deserts and ancient cultures, and by Watt’s contemporary take on still life, with objects set against a space of intriguing neutrality.
Fernando Casasempere and Alison Watt
26 February – 1 March 2020
Full Biography (PDF)
Fernando Casasempere (born 1958) is a Chilean sculptor working with ceramics, the traditional material of pottery, and his work explores ideas of landscape and the environment. Conceptually his use of earth/clay and his concern with nature and ecological issues connects him to artists associated with the Land or Earth Art movement, but Casasempere works out of a very different cultural tradition, being profoundly inspired by the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Latin America. Many of his works address the processes by which that landscape has been exploited and he has worked with copper tailings or relaves, industrial waste materials produced by copper mining, to make work that calls into question the relationship between art and the environment, between culture and the earth itself from which the sculptures are made. Although his work is predominantly abstract, much of it can be read topographically, almost as a document of the landscape from which the materials have been sourced. This presentation will run concurrently to his major solo show at Casa América in Madrid.
Casasempere was born in Santiago, Chile in 1958. He studied ceramics and sculpture in Barcelona in the 1980s, returning to Chile in 1986. He has been based in London since 1997. Casasempere’s work has been exhibited internationally since the 1980s.
In 2016 Casasempere was the first artist to be honoured with a solo exhibition throughout the entire Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago. Other recent solo exhibitions include ‘Terra’, Casa América, Madrid (2020), Ivory Press, Madrid, (2019) ‘Out of Sync’, Somerset House, London (2012) and ‘Falla Ideologico’, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2012). Casasempere’s work is in international collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Harvard University Art Museums, International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza and the Museu Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago.
Full Biography (PDF)
Widely regarded as one of the leading British painters working today, Alison Watt (born 1965) first came to public attention in 1987 when she won the National Portrait Prize while still a student. She subsequently became well known for her paintings of figures, often female nudes, before beginning, in the late 1990s, to focus on the fabric which had previously served as backdrops or props for her figures. The absence of the human figure marked an important shift in her work. However, rather than completely abandoning the figure Watt’s paintings evoked the human body in its absence. Since then Watt’s paintings have continued to negotiate a position close to abstraction while remaining firmly rooted in her studies of drapery, light, the human form and her committed engagement with Old Master paintings and sculpture. In 2006-8 she was Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London. Her solo exhibition ‘Phantom’ was held at the museum in 2008.
In 2020 new work will be showcased at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh and Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Important recent exhibitions include ‘A Shadow on the Blind’, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal and Parafin, London (2018-19), ‘Reality: Modern & Contemporary British Painting’ at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2014-15) and ‘Autoriatratto’, Uffizi Gallery (2010). Watt’s work is included in many important collections including the Arts Council Collection, Hayward Gallery, London, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Southampton City Art Gallery, the British Council Collection, London, the US Embassy, London, and the Uffizi in Florence.