Friday 11 November 2011

Cinematic moments from Jonathan Wateridge

Matinee, 2011, Oil on linen, 282 x 400 cm

In his latest set of paintings, on show at All Visual Arts in London until Saturday, Jonathan Wateridge brings an air of cinematic mystery to a series of everyday scenes…

Titled Mittlelland, the paintings are all executed in subdued blue-grey tones and present seemingly ordinary moments from urban life. A middle-aged couple is found in the midst of decorating their home, a family stands together on a balcony, and a group of teenagers hang out at a swimming hole. This seems a shift in tone from Wateridge’s previous works, which have depicted such sensational scenes as plane wrecks, though there is subtle drama here too. While on the surface all seems normal, his use of filmic lighting and haunted expressions hint at a deeper narrative. The paintings bring to mind the photographic works of Gregory Crewdson or even Jeff Wall, who both create complex fictions, all with a heightened sense of reality.

Repainting, 2011, Oil on linen, 282 x 400 cm

Detail of Repainting, 2011

It is interesting to discover that Wateridge builds movie-style sets in his studio to paint from and employs actors to play the characters in the paintings. In one work here, the edges of the set are even revealed, further emphasising the lack of reality. Despite this, it’s easy to become absorbed in Wateridge’s fictions: he invites us in and then leaves us to decide what happens next.

Interior Exit, 2011, Oil on linen, 282 x 400 cm

Detail of Interior Exit, 2011

Mittelland is on at All Visual Arts in London until November 12. More info is at

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