Jonathan Wateridge - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David Risley Gallery, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    Untitled (Mountain Wreck), from 2006, is a work by the English hyper-realist artist Jonathan Wateridge. painted on a monumental scale, the piece invites the viewer into its alternate reality and overpowers with its grandeur. Wateridge’s precision of representation and fine application of paint creates a disconcertingly pseudo-realistic image, an illusion of a landscape the viewer might think they had already encountered. As the artist puts it: "My paintings construct images you feel you could have seen before. They play on a sense of the familiar … It’s essentially a B-movie aesthetic meets the Sublime. They all contain wrecks of obsolete modernist engineering rotting away in fictional landscapes" ( It is this subtle marriage of the sublime, inspired by idealistic landscapes of Claude Lorrain, with the more recent and hard-edged aesthetics of photomontage and cinematography, that creates a playful ambiguity in his work.

    The present lot is one of a series of landscapes of ‘forgotten disasters’, set in zoological habitats reminiscent of the old-style dioramas found in museums of natural history. Works in the so-called ‘crash series’ depict crashed planes and ships within these imaginary landscapes, conjuring up a theatrical world reminiscent of scenes from Jurassic Park. Inspired by the cinema, the artist works almost like a movie director. He stages sets with large- scale models, taking numerous photographs with which to build up a story that he later depicts in paintings of dramatic intensity. For instance to create Untitled (Mountain Wreck), Wateridge explains that he started "by making a scale model of the scene – I built a plane and wrecked it – and worked directly from the miniature. This allows me to think of my work in relation to cinematography. Akin to making a film, I can compose the image and direct the lighting as I see fit" (www.saatchi- In a further comparison to cinematography, the work is painted on ten plexiglas sheets arranged like a mille-feuille, like cinematographic film that consists of multiple frames.

    By presenting his ideas on this monumental scale, Wateridge creates a parallel between the widescreen cinema and the painted surface that in turn relates to photographic works by contemporaries, such as Jeff Wall, who employ photography to imitate conventional painting. In one of Wall’s greatest pieces, Dead Troops Talk (a vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986), 1992, the photographer created a fictional battleground in a hired studio, taking multiple shots and fusing together selected images with the help of digital technology. The result was a compelling tableau of modern-day disaster, meticulously realistic yet entirely constructed by the artist. Although painting in traditional technique, Wateridge, like Wall, uses photography as an intrinsic part of the process of creation, an essential step towards portraying his own heart-stopping dystopian visions.


Jungle River Landscape with Plane Wreck

oil on plexiglass sheets (in ten parts)
192 x 270 x 21.5 cm (75 5/8 x 106 1/4 x 8 1/2 in)

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £109,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

14 February 2013