A departure from his known works on canvas of fluid shapes in symmetric vibrant hues, and murals on large-scale public walls, Destination Unknown features Watts’ most meticulous work to date: detailed illustrations exploring the artist’s journey through imagination that manifest a world of endless possibilities. This exhibition draws from Watts’ real-life objects, events, and photographs, while conceptually merges both fact and fictional elements into mellifluent scenes of splendor and intrigue. Grand architectural schemes backdrop mise-en-scenes, where precious life wonders meet disparate happenstance.
Watts’ newest works demonstrate true dedication to his craft, producing a collection that emphasizes his technical approach to illustration and precise attention to detail. Watts created eight pieces over seven months, in a departure from his habitual pattern. He is a veteran of graffiti, giving way to an artistic process mandating you get in and out as quickly as possible. However, allowing himself time to treat each illustration a tour de force rather than the entire show itself the masterpiece, Destination Unknown yielded Watts less work than shows past, yet far superior in quality to anything he’s ever produced, he said. “Each piece has been a marathon—often taking weeks to complete—so the challenge to finish is exhausting, but crossing the finish line is very satisfying.”
Ricky Watts’ ability to translate opposing narratives through a warm pallet and tight composition is revealed in his depiction of children’s delight at play amid contrasting wreckage, and colorful balloons and bubbles floating freely over unstable dwellings and shipwrecks. All is a reminder an element of yin shares space with every existence of yang, that organic beauty and youthful innocence will forever counterbalance a world full of tragedy and misfortune. And from life’s pairings of opposite circumstances, stories await Watts’ aesthetic interpretation.
“I’m a positive and happy person, but I have this under lying obsession with unfortunate circumstances,” he says of themes reflecting inspiration. “Most often tragedies are man-made, which is significant to me cause I strongly feel we are our own worst enemies. The human race is superior, dominating everything else on the planet, yet we’re unable to be completely satisfied. We feel a need to continue to develop technology ‘for the good of mankind.’ Sadly, I feel that will ultimately lead to our own self-destruction.”
Watts move to technical illustration represents a new direction in his oeuvre. While surprisingly he isn’t formally trained, his experience with abstract work enables him to build on a process that breaks the big picture down into simple shapes and colors. Watts has been fascinated by illustration since childhood, yet through graffiti and fine art his drawings often failed to progress past the conceptual stage before being brought to life on a wall or canvas. With Destination Unknown, the end result is stunning, and a direct representation of Watts superior talent in all mediums.
Please join us for the opening of Destination Unknown at the
489 A 25th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Saturday, January 5, 2013
5pm to 8pm
510.735.9405 / ZeroFriends.com
Beginning Friday, January 4, 2013 the collection can be previewed during Oakland Art Murmur. Destination Unknown will be on view through January 31, 2013.