KINGSTON:Lying in bed and gazing at the ceiling, Kai is consumed by an image which has spent the entire night dancing through his thoughts and flirting with his emotions. He jolts out of bed with an impulsive urge to paint and quickly makes his way down a flight of stairs and into his studio. He pulls a chair, sits in a corner with a laptop on the desk in front of him, and begins to peruse a sea of emails.
Though seemingly in a battle to ignore the unfinished artwork in his periphery, Kai appears to be relaxed and in a carefree mood. Suddenly, the need to change something hits him, he goes straight to canvas and the painting process begins, yet again.
The room, adorned with pieces created by his grandfather, the legendary Barrington Watson, and shrouded by sculptures hand-crafted by his talented and well-respected father, Basil, is a daunting place to work amidst such artistic success, but Kai seems at ease with the task at hand.
"I think having the Watson name in the Jamaican art industry has been primarily a blessing, but it certainly comes with its challenges," revealed painter Kai Watson.
"Within the artistic world, my surname has come to symbolise innovation, meticulous work, and superior quality. The downside, however, is that my catalogue is usually compared to my family members' entire collection, oftentimes with pieces produced during their prime. Most artists, on the other hand, are evaluated against their contemporaries, who are more or less in a similar period in their careers," he explained.
Although Kai had decided to become an artist by the time he was 18 years old, and chose to pursue an art major at Ohio Wesleyan University, it wasn't until he turned 24 that he made a commitment to exclusively work within the field. Making the leap to full-time painter proved to be very difficult as he didn't have a client base, and the move came in the midst of on-going global recession.
In spite of the obstacles, Kai has made tremendous strides over the course of his blossoming career. He believes that he has grown in every aspect of his profession, from conceptualising to planning to evaluating his artwork.
"My proudest accomplishment was undoubtedly hosting my first show in Jamaica in 2009. Even though I was very lucky to be partnering with my father for the event, I was still very nervous about how my paintings would be received," Kai recalled. "When my collection was unveiled, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of appreciation and I was particularly happy to see the pride on my mother's and grandmother's faces," he shared.
His work has and continues to evolve as he constantly challenges himself by doing pieces with multiple figures and abstracts, as well as dramatically increasing the scale of his work, the largest to date measuring 6ft x 8ft. Today, Kai focuses on creating a strong core for his artwork by ensuring that it is well defined and then adds layers of complexity, all in a bid to strengthen the essence of the painting.
Following in his grandfather's footsteps, Kai eventually would like to establish a gallery in Jamaica because he thinks the island needs more artist galleries to showcase art from the point of view of the people creating it.
Additionally, he wants to increase awareness and emphasise the importance of the arts. In his opinion, Jamaican music, sports and food are highly sought after, but interest in Jamaican art is greatly lacking. Kai believes that Jamaican artists have the ability to be thought of in the same vein as some of the world's greatest painters and sculptors, but insists this can only be achieved by educating people from a very young age; investing in local artists; and identifying that there is worth and wealth in it.
"I'm often asked how I plan to establish my own legacy and set myself apart from my grandfather, father and uncle," shared Kai. "I strongly believe that with art, everyone has their own fingerprint. When you're trying to be different, you're essentially not trying to be yourself," he explained. "I'm not on a mission to differentiate myself from my family as I believe that over time, as my body of work expands and I mature, the difference will be evident," he commented.
For more information about Kai Watson's collection, please contact Joni Wedderburn at email@example.com or call 946-9382 / 896-1324.