Gay Star News on Ross Watson

Meet the man behind some of the most stunning male art in the world

EXCLUSIVE: Ross Watson talks about his art, inspirations and why he and his partner won't be taking advantage of Australia’s new same-sex marriage law

Australian artist Ross Watson has become one of the world’s foremost painters of the male figure. Although many might recognize his art, they might not know much about the man behind the work.

Watson, 56, was born and raised in Brisbane and studied at the Queensland College of Art.

He tells GSN he can still clearly remember the first time he produced a painting he was proud of.

‘I was about 13 or 14. I felt so pleased, it helped my confidence and was excited to start a new work and try and achieve the same standard.’

Melbourne home

He moved to Melbourne in his early 20s, where he has been based for the past 35 years. Throughout his time in Melbourne, he has earned a living as an artist. At first, he was represented by leading commercial galleries. However, he has represented himself for the past 20 years.

He and his partner, Stephen Morgan, run the Ross Watson Gallery in North Carlton, Melbourne. The men have been together 13 years.

Ross’ original paintings now sell for between AU$16,000 – AU$100,000 ($12,000-$74,000), depending on size and complexity. His smaller canvases take a couple of weeks, with major works taking up to six weeks of his time. His hyper-realist portraits often draw upon Renaissance art inspiration.

Much of his work features men – both dressed and undressed. Many of his subjects confound notions of gay stereotypes, featuring men in uniform. Past models have included James Wharton, the former British soldier.

Watson has spoken before about wanting to highlight strong, gay role models. It remains a motivating factor behind some of his art.

Yes. My most recent series homines/uniformis, included paintings featuring Alexis Caught who plays football with London’s Kings Cross Steelers. I was impressed and moved by his social media posts where he sometimes spoke candidly about his sexuality and personal challenges – anxiety, self image issues.’

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