Presenting the history of American Art as seen through the eyes of Provincetown

Peter Watts



The paintings of Peter Watts, in the words of the artist, "condense the richness of the landscape of Wellfleet," where he has lived for over forty years. But, "at the same time as I have absorbed this landscape and considered its every nuance of light, and change of topography or weather," my daily experience fuses with memories and dreams." As art critic Margaret Sheffield noted, Watts "expresses thought, emotion, and mood through color combinations," working with high contrast and simplified form.

Watts brings to this very familiar Cape Cod landscape a multiplicity of painting approaches drawn from his formidable artistic toolbox. He powerfully moves from a classically composed post-impressionistic "Three Ponds" in which he reveals his ability to juxtapose strokes of color to activate the surface and render atmospheric conditions, to "Fading Light," where he moves from the darkest foreground to a dramatically bright horizon that fades into darkening clouds above in a simple composition of stratified, only slightly articulated, color fields reminiscent of Arthur Dove. "At the same time," says Berta Walker, "these paintings impart the spiritual abstracted light of a Rothko painting." Watts is an unusually exciting painter, with fresh, deeply understood perspectives on how to approach his subject. A sophisticated painter of seemingly simple subject matter, Watts represents some of the best in the continuing evolution of American modernism: "I am building a painting with as little form as is possible. The viewer will find a small truth in the work and if this happens, the painting is successful," he has said.