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I might say that Gary Waters is a painter both of the past and of the future. Figuration and the craft of painting which since Duchamp has been unfashionable is undergoing a revival and brings fresh insight to our technology dominated future.

Waters’ work is very much in the European figurative tradition. For the artist it is a challenge to be able to paint a hand or an ear with eloquence, to understand and use the grammar of paint.

He uses these tools to create pictorial narratives. They are not factual in the sense that they could have been photographed; they are constructed as psychological narratives between figures and the space they inhabit. One could see them as metaphors about the delicate balance and fragility of our lives. The paintings function in a pictorial space and have an internal logic; this balance of visual facts and imaginative intention are evident.

Waters invests each image with mystery and the figures seem in a state of flux. This interest in ambiguity mirrors both real life and dreams, neither of which have satisfactory endings. Waters has said: “I often leave films ten minutes before the end; the completeness of the narrative is far too neat, and so unlike life.

He compares the experience of dreaming with that of looking at paintings, and infuses this in his work: “When we dream we accept quite naturally a different system to assess, quantify and judge.” The artists of the Renaissance used the tools of perspective and the grammar of paint to achieve verisimilitude. The paintings were proof of biblical stories. Gary Waters explores contemporary life with a fine tooth comb that often becomes tangled in the web of myths which, consciously or unconsciously, have preoccupied artists from all eras.

Maggie Knight

Gary Waters was born in South Wales in 1953. He studied at Hornsey, Birmingham and the Royal College of Art. On leaving college he set up studio and taught at colleges in Salisbury, Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and Bradford in the UK and at Morris College New Jersey, U.S.A.

He has exhibited extensivly with principle solo shows in Nice, Castres, Venice, Cardiff, New Jersey and London.

In 1991 Gary Waters stopped teaching to paint full time. He now lives in South West France with the photographer Mabel Odessey and their two children.