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John Watkiss: A Retrospective

John Watkiss: A Retrospective at The Naked Eye Gallery, Hove

‘Painting and art for me is a means of showing the world a vision which I have seen with my mind, not with my eyes - which I use merely as a means of perception. I call this ‘Mindsight’’ - John Watkiss (1961-2017)

The Naked Eye Gallery are pleased to be hosting a retrospective exhibition of works by the late John Watkiss. Celebrated as an independent visionary, John brought his individual style and training to any artistic situation. This show exhibits the latter part of John’s career with artwork ranging from fantasy to pulp to mystery. 

John was born in England in 1961. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Brighton University with a BA 1st Class Honours in Fine Art and Illustration. He began his career in London as a portrait painter and illustrator before moving on to teach anatomy and fine art at the Royal College of Art.

On the international stage, John was a prominent figure in the graphic novel world, working for the ‘big boys’ of the industry such as Dark Horse Comics (most notably ‘Ring of Roses’ with author Dan Petrou), DC Comics (‘Sandman - Sandman Mystery Theatre’ and ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’) and for Marvel Comics (‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Silver Surfer’).

John continued his artistic journey into the movie world. Here he worked with renowned individuals such as director Francis Ford Coppola in 1984 on a movie involving CGI for the first time. John was employed as a film development artist for various Disney films including ‘Emperor’s New Groove’ and ‘Atlantis’. John then worked as a key frame concept artist for the movie ‘Captain Sky and the World of Tomorrow’. Through his storyboard illustrations, John enabled the development and making of the 2009 movie ‘Sherlock Holmes’ starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.

Having worked in the film industry John made the transition to the small screen where he worked on the post-production concept art for the popular TV series ‘The Walking Dead’. John died of cancer in January 2017 at the age of 55, amongst his most famous works he left behind is a mural for the Ford Motor Company Museum in Detroit.

“Having studied at Brighton before finding fame in America it feels like The Naked Eye Gallery in Hove is an apt venue for this retrospective” said gallery owner, David Donno, who continued “this show focusses on the latter part of John’s career with artwork ranging from fantasy to pulp to mystery. All the work is imbued with John’s signature style, drawing on his lifetime experience of a varied and interesting career in the art world.”

The retrospective runs from the 1st-14th February.

Preview the work in John Watkiss: A Retrospective here.