Ryan Watson was born in Scarborough in the 1970s, the descendant of a landscape painter and a window display designer. His serious endeavors into painting began in the late 90s and by the early 2000s was combining abstract expressionism with collage and text. In the mid-2010s, he began shooting urban and industrial images to replicate in his paintings. Soon these images became an artistic entity themselves. It was at this time that Watson began renting his photographic work for use in film sets he helped decorate. Gallery showings began shortly afterward including participation in the Ontario Society of Artists' most recent juried exhibition.
About the Works
Watson Art + Photography is an ongoing series of digital photography focusing on abstract composition. The process begins by using the camera to shoot real world urban and industrial images found throughout Toronto and its surrounding areas. The images are then uploaded to photo editing software where a process of experimentation is applied. Each image is subject to numerous manipulations, exaggerations and modifications available in the platform to transform the photograph from its realistic origin to something approaching an abstract expressionist painting. Some images require little enhancement to produce a desired result, while others mutate beyond recognition, occasionally featuring digital 'flaws' - extreme pixilation, exaggerated contrasts, etc. - which are intentionally highlighted.
As the image is subject to the manipulations of computer software to create the final version of the piece, the work fits into the broader digital culture as an example of generative art. Further, by combining elements of traditional painting, experimental photography and contemporary digital art, the work acts as a bridge between these disciplines and lends legitimacy to 21st century digital art forms to those who are unfamiliar with or reluctant to consider art created using technological means.
Investigating forgotten locations and surfaces that are often considered blemishes or simply disregarded altogether, this series recontextualizes the post-industrial underside of Toronto and its surrounding areas. This project aims to extract the raw, tarnished appearance of a major North American city and transform it into art before gentrification sweeps through it entirely.