“The desire for simplicity and order helps us to endure and inspires us in the midst of chaos; chaos is the beginning, order is the conclusion.”
- M.C. Escher
Prague-based artist Chris Watson is putting a contemporary spin on the ancient design technique of tessellation. His collection of digital prints, which are on exhibit at Vinohradský Pivovar until February 2018, visually engage viewers using the geometric principals of tessellation to depict various motifs including animal heads, skulls, and local architecture.
“For me, my work is almost more design than art, as there are geometric parameters within which you have to work,” said Watson. “When you make a tessellating pattern, there is something quite satisfying about its completeness.”
A few of Watson’s tessellation prints on display.
Originally trained as an industrial designer, Watson previously worked at Dyson in the U.K. designing vacuum cleaners. After leaving Dyson and moving to Indonesia, he discovered the use of tessellation in art through the work of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, who is often regarded as the ‘Father’ of modern tessellation.
“It was actually kind of similar to what I was doing in mechanism design for the vacuum cleaners,” Watson said. [There are] similarities between the geometry of tessellation and the geometry of mechanism design.”
Watson moved to Prague in 2013 and began pursuing his art more seriously, producing a wide range of unique pieces and holding his first art exhibition a year later. Last summer, Watson approached Jan Korselt, one of the directors and co-founders of Vinohradský Pivovar, about using the brewery’s music hall for an art exhibition.
Tessellation Art’s opening night at Vinohradský Pivovar
Since it’s opening in 2014, Korselt and his colleagues have used the music hall in the brewery’s downstairs area as a venue for an assortment of cultural events including concerts, theatre performances, lectures, and even comedy. The space has become the realization of Korselt’s idea to provide his patrons with an experience that goes beyond simply enjoying good beer, wine, and food.
“We don’t invest in marketing,” he said. “Culture is something we think is much more beneficial to us…this is our marketing. It’s not as efficient probably, but it’s something we like. It’s something that enables us to raise our heads from the schnitzel and the beer and look at something which is a little more serious.”
Korselt’s policy for hosting events is more ad hoc than meticulously planned, with he and his colleagues preferring to stay open to all possibilities, rather than maintaining a strict schedule of curated performances. Watson’s Tessellation Art is the first purely visual art exhibition the brewery has hosted.
“Chris sent me an email, and I thought it would be a good idea,” Korselt said. “I met with him, and Chris is a very nice guy and I rather believed in his personality and attitude than the art. I’m not an art connoisseur.”
Despite some apprehension about the exhibition’s logistics, Korselt said he and the other Vinohradský Pivovar directors were pleased with the opening night, held on Oct. 19th.
Watson explaining the geometric principals used in his work
Because of the space’s more relaxed vibe, Watson chose to forego music and instead balanced the atmosphere with projections and photographs of the last four to five years of his development work, in addition to animations that explained what tessellation is and the geometric principals behind it.
“On the opening night I got a lot of positive feedback which was nice, and I was able to explain the development process for different bits of artwork,” he said.
In addition to this exhibition being the first to showcase his entire collection, Watson was also able to introduce a new format for his work. While all of his prints can be purchased on canvas, Watson has recently started producing light box versions of his work, which can be purchased via Tessellation Art’s online shop.
A light box version of the ‘Fox Head’ print
Holding an art exhibition at an unconventional venue like Vinohradský Pivovar also provided an opportunity for Watson to connect with a more diverse audience than what might be found in a typical gallery.
Location was also taken into consideration. Watson said selecting a place in close proximity to the architecture featured in his art helped make the work more relevant to the people visiting.
The Žižkov TV Tower is a local site featured in Watson’s work
“The art I do is a bit more mainstream in that it’s kind of accessible to everyone,” said Watson. “It’s affordable to a lot of people – I’m offering something which I think a lot of people will like, that is appropriate for a wide range of [home] decorating.”
Watson’s full collection will be displayed at Vinohradský Pivovar until February 2018.
By: Caroline Corrigan
Photos by: Nicol Soukupová
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