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Denys Watkins

b. 1945, Wellington

Lives and works in Auckland

There is an ingenious harmony to Denys Watkins’ paintings that is the result of a long-standing studio practice, and a keen fascination and curiosity about the world. Known for his striking abstract canvases that are capable of brightening the most gloomy of days, he has consistently widened his visual encyclopaedia of cultural references — taking source inspiration from any area deemed relevant or necessary to a particular composition or series. Within Watkins’ paintings one might spy varying abstractions of coral, billowing mushroom clouds, Hindu Monkey Gods, the tangled roots of orchid plants, or an obscure lyric from a 1970s song. Lately his attentions have focused more on environmental concerns, turning to the natural world for artistic inspiration. Watkins’ masterful layering of colour, texture and form combine in a distinct visual language able to convey the more mysterious and wondrous aspects of nature.

Denys Watkins is a highly respected contemporary artist with a career spanning 5 decades. He taught as a senior lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts from 1980–2011 and his work is held in several major collections throughout Australasia. He began his studies at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design from 1962-64, and then in London at both the Central School of Art in 1967, and the Royal College of Art from 1968-70. He has been awarded multiple scholarships throughout his career, and was the recipient of the Artist in Residence programme at the Canberra School of Art in 1985, and the Sanskriti Foundation Residency in India, 2003.