Canadian painter Janna Watson uses abstraction as both an escape from and return to the real. As the world we know dematerializes into paint strokes, so too does her paint take stage as its very own character in a multi-act drama of composition. Bundles of colour, made up of discrete yet inseparable instances of pigment—what Watson refers to as “moments”—are teeming and poised as though caught mid-multiplication. Sweeps of paint re-direct sharply and fold over themselves; thin, rigid ink lines cut into the pictorial field as rudimentary elements in an increasingly complex system of painterly language. All the components play out on a surface of slow, chromatic gradation. Like many of Watson’s players, these backdrops tenderly gesture toward the familiar, stopping just short of representation. The result is a conceptual project (and distinct, stylistic signature) that speaks to a contemporary milieu in which abstract painting is not the retreat of meaning into an unrecognizable realm, but rather the emergence of medium as a “figure” in its own self-inscribed world of feeling and being. Watson does more than reveal paint’s potential to emote—she gives it a space to reveal itself, in its own time.

Janna Watson holds an honours degree in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and since graduating has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally in over thirty solo exhibitions. Her work has appeared in notable public collections including those of TD Bank, CIBC, Telus, the Ritz-Carlton, ONi ONE, the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2013, she was commissioned to create an impressive, 11-foot painting for the lobby of AURA, Canada’s tallest residential building.

Watson’s paintings circulate regularly at international fairs, including Art Toronto, CONTEXT Art Miami, and in Seattle, where they were recently featured by Artsy in its list of “10 Works to Collect at the Seattle Art Fair.” Watson’s work has been covered by publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, and House & Home.

Janna Watson also runs Studio Watson, a business dedicated to redefining interiors with hand-tufted floor pieces inspired by the artist’s abstract compositions.

She lives and works in Toronto. 



BFA Painting & Drawing (Honours)
Ontario College of Art and Design


2019  Melancholy Has A Day Job Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2019  Strange Legacy Kenise Barnes Fine Art / New York
2019  Suspended in Time Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2018  Moody as Light Foster White Gallery / Seattle
2018  Patterns of Up and Down Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2018  Light is Heavy Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2017  Heavy with Dreams Foster White Gallery / Seattle
2017  Still Life Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2017  Something In The Air Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2016  Talking To Orchids Foster White Gallery / Seattle
2016  The Body Moves Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2016  There is No Dimmer Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2015  Out of Line Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2014  Silent Ocean Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2014  New Paintings Couture Galleri / Stockholm
2013  A Line with a Mind of its Own Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver 
2013  Levitation Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2013  Inside: I Burst to Flames Couture Galleri / Stockholm
2012  Magic is Also Involved Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver 
2012  When Poets Hallucinate Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto 
2012  Come Up to My Room Gladstone Hotel / Toronto
2011  Rooms with no Floors Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver 
2011  Put a Straight Jacket On A Fire Gallery 1313 / Toronto
2010  Light is not Heavy Bau-Xi Gallery / Toronto
2010  Overexcited Sensitivity Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2009  The Objects Have Lost Their Colour Median Contemporary / Toronto
2008  Wet Tambourine Fute Design / Toronto
2007  Nervous Laughter Soho Gallery / Toronto
2006  Janna Watson River Salon / Toronto



2018  Art Toronto Toronto
2018  Revivify Kenise Barnes Fine Art / Larchmont
2018  A Deeper Shade of Blue Bau-Xi Gallery / Vancouver
2017  CONTEXT Miami Miami
2017  Art Toronto Toronto
2017  Seattle Art Fair Seattle
2017  Focus, Spring 2017 Larchmount
2016  CONTEXT Miami Miami
2016  Art Toronto Toronto
2015  CONTEXT Miami Miami
2015  Art Toronto Toronto
2015  Seattle Art Fair Seattle
2014  Art Toronto Toronto
2013  Art Toronto Toronto
2012  Miami Scope Miami
2011  The Memory Project Okanagan Heritage Museum / Kelowna
2009  Queen West Art Crawl Trinity Bellwoods / Toronto
2009  Art Expo 2009 Toronto Convention Center / Toronto
2009  Spring Exhibition Hamilton Art Gallery / Hamilton
2008  Winter Exhibition Hamilton Art Gallery / Hamilton
2008  Queen West Art Crawl Trinity Bellwoods / Toronto
2008  Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Nathan Phillips Square / Toronto
2008  Our Space is Vast – Transit Space / Toronto
2007  Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Nathan Phillip Square / Toronto
2007  Who Dunnit OCAD / Toronto
2006  Art Fest The Huron / Collingwood


Saks Fifth Avenue Toronto
Hudson’s Bay Company New York
Rosa Properties Vancouver
The Keg Toronto
AURA Condominium Toronto
Cenovus Energy Inc. Calgary
Oni One Toronto
CIBC Toronto
GZ International Toronto
Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada Toronto
Relative Space Toronto
The Ritz Carlton Toronto
Soho Metropolitan Hotel Toronto
TD Bank Financial Group Toronto
TELUS Toronto