Swedish artist Liselotte Watkins on her new exhibition for COS

Swedish artist Liselotte on her new exhibition for COS | Soho House

The illustrator-turned-painter celebrated her partnership with the brand at Soho House Stockholm, where she discussed the inspiration behind her work

Wednesday 21 December 2022   By Soho House

Swedish artist Liselotte Watkins is known for her exploration of the world of shapes and colours. Her work has taken her around the world – from studying in Texas at the Art Institute of Dallas to spending the 1990s in the heart of New York’s art scene, where she became renowned for her fashion illustrations, with clients including Prada, Vogue, Elle, and The New Yorker.

After some years in Milan and Paris, Watkins ended up in Rome, where she pressed pause on her career as a fashion illustrator to focus on creating art of her own. She spent a decade in Italy (where she still lives), honing her craft and dedicating her time exclusively to painting. Much like the rest of her acclaimed work, her latest collection in collaboration with COS is an exploration of womanhood, focusing on ‘The Lonely Hunter’. 

Last week, she celebrated the new exhibition at Soho House Stockholm, putting her work on display in our newly opened Swedish outpost and hosting a special talk, where she shared her inspirations. Here, Watkins opens up further about her work and what art means to her. 

Swedish artist Liselotte on her new exhibition for COS | Soho House
Swedish artist Liselotte on her new exhibition for COS | Soho House

What is the overall theme of your exhibition for COS and what inspired it?
‘The Lonely Hunter is about the woman and her different roles.’   

Did you discover anything new that you didn’t know before in your research on this topic? 
‘I learnt a lot about Archangel St Michele, whose role this woman in the painting sometimes steps into. I also went back and read a lot about Joan of Arc. Before a series of paintings, I do a lot of reading and looking in my books. Then, a narrative starts to form.’

What’s your favourite piece from the exhibition and why does it stand out to you? 
‘I don’t really have favorites, but I like the one with her holding the sword. I’ve never painted that before.’

How would you describe your creative process from ideation to execution? How long does it typically take from one step to the next?
‘The research for a new series can take a week or a year. The painting sometimes goes slow or quick. There is no set time for the different processes. And then in between the pieces, I usually stop, go back in the papers and see if I have missed a detail.’

What does art mean to you? 
‘It is what I do. And like Louise Bourgeois said, “Art is a guaranty of sanity’. History and art make me happy; it’s something comforting to read, and to research and paint. Time stands still.’
What would you like people to take away from this particular exhibition? 
‘Happiness. And to see things in the paintings that maybe have a reference for them. All the things that mean something to me might mean nothing or everything to someone else.’
Having collaborated with COS, in what ways do you think art and fashion interlink? 
‘In many ways. I look to fashion a lot for the women that I paint. What they wear says a lot about them. Fashion for me is the most fun when it’s a means of expression.’ 

Artistically, what are you looking forward to exploring the most in future projects?
‘The unexpected. When you start thinking of new themes and projects you want to surprise yourself.’