Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"Force of Nature" Solo Exhibition in London

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to the preview of my solo exhibition at Duncan R Miller Fine Arts in St James's, London last week.  It was a great evening, and I really appreciate your enthusiasm and kind support.  Hope you all enjoyed the show as well!

If you missed the preview, don't worry - the show is on until 3rd March.  You can view all the work here, and take a stroll round the preview with these photos!

Here's the gallery from the outside in Bury Street.

Here's the first room, with a painting of the Mumbles in the Gower Peninsula in Wales on the left.

In the centre is a little painting of sunflowers which I saw at the roadside in Connecticut.  On the right is the Lizard in Cornwall.

At the top is the Ile de la Cite in Paris from Pont Neuf, and below it is a painting of Hammersmith Bridge.

This large painting is of the Campsies, to the north of Glasgow.

On the left at the top are the Falls of Dochart, below is a painting of the Glenlivet estate.  To the right at the top is Camusdarach on the west coast of Scotland, and below it is the Bass Rock at North Berwick.

On the left, yachts at North Berwick.  Top right, the Gower Peninsula, below is Sea Cliff on the East Coast with the Bass Rock.

This is the second room, with paitnings of Skye, North Berwick, Sandsend near Whitby, and Rhossili Bay in the Gower.

Main picture is of the Cuillins at Sligachan.

Rhossili Bay (left), Aberdeenshire (top) and the Solway Coast (below).

Autumn paintings of Hampstead Heath and the Falls of Dochart at Killin, along with seascapes of Whitby and St Ives.

Lastly, a European selection of paintings of London, Amsterdam and Venice.

Please do go along to the gallery if you get the chance!  The paintings look quite different when you see the real thing.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Art of France

Now, if you're a follower of my blog, you may have guessed that anything with Andrew Graham Dixon in it is okay by me.

So please do take a look at his latest series Art of France on BBC Four.  Even if, in episode one, he did rehash his 'church as reliquary ' theory from Treasures of Heaven.

He also got his hands, quite literally,  on Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers.  This was so amazing, I (sadly) actually screamed.  The last time I saw a page of the book was in a slide test during a Fine Art exam, and so it has been seared in my memory ever since.  But I had no idea what size the original was, or how stunningly bright and breathtakingly detailed it is.  And there it was, like an old friend!  And to think Andrew had his ungloved hands on it!!

This series, then, is the story of the most powerful kings ever to rule in Europe with their glittering palaces and astounding art to go in them. AGD reveals how art emerged from a struggle between tradition and revolution, between rulers and a people who didn't always want to be ruled.

Starting with the first great revolution in art, the invention of Gothic architecture, he traces its development up until the arrival of Classicism and the Age of Enlightenment - and the very eve of the Revolution. Along the way some of the greatest art the world has ever seen was born including the paintings of Poussin (amazing), Watteau (awful) and Chardin (strangely compelling).  Here is Chardin's The Ray, where the cat arches it back, like the cat in Olympia, and the disembowelled body of the fish hangs centre stage, smiling its strange, unsettling,  martyred smile.

It is like the face of the flayed faun in Titian's last painting, The Punishment of Marsyas.

Chardin has managed to create a still life that you actually have empathy and pity for.  And that's something.

AGD also covers the decadent Rococo delights of Boucher and the great history paintings of Charles le Brun - not my favourite period, I have to say, but interesting historically all the same.

You can also see episode 2 There Will be Blood.   

This second episode is an exploration of how art in France took a dramatic turn following the French Revolution that ushered in a bold new world, because of course art is inextricably a reflection of the times in which it is made. 

From the execution of King Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte - a figure who simultaneously repelled and inspired artists of his time - through to the rise of Romanticism and an art of seduction, sex and high drama.  Artists include Jacques-Louis David - whose art appeared on the barricades and in the streets - as well as the work of Delacroix, Ingres and the tragic but brilliant Theodore Gericault.

Roll on L'Origine du Monde!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


Just in case you're wondering where all the blog posts have gone, I've been over on my Facebook page with photos and updates.

Take a look here to see what I've been up to!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Joan Eardley: A Sense of Place

There's a great article on the BBC website about the major new Joan Eardley show that's just opened at the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

 The Wave, 1961 © Estate of Joan Eardley

I was at the private view of the show last Thursday (as well as the wonderful celebratory dinner), and it promises to be an important and memorable exhibition - although it was hard to see what was on the walls for the sheer number of folk there!  The show puts a lot of important new material such as letters, maps and preparatory sketches on display in order to contextualise and compliment the work. 

The rooms are arranged so that each takes a theme - Glasgow children, Catterline etc, which helps to focus and clarify the work.  You can visualise and understand exactly where Eardley stood in Catterline order to paint the works. 

Anything which sheds new light on an artists work and brings it to life is a worthwhile exhibition, and anything which helps to cement the reputation of Joan Eardley, one of Scotland's finest ever artists, is to be commended.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Paul Nash at the Tate

The wonderful Paul Nash exhibition at the Tate Britain in London is currently on at the moment, and is a great introduction to the work of this very English and rather mystical artist.

This is an exhibition which takes you through the lyrical, Georgic drawings of his early years (during which his home life involved his mother dying in a mental institution in 1910), and his repetative, comfort drawings of a family group of trees.  

Paul Nash fought in the First World War, later acting as a War Artist.  Here he is in uniform in 1918.

          Paul Nash by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative, 29 April 1918 (c) National Portrait Gallery

However, whilst he was invalided out after a fall in the trenches, his entire battalion of the Artists Rifles were killed. Not surprisingly, this affected him very much mentally (causing a breakdown in 1921).  His huge, stunning canvas The Menin Road, is in the exhibition, and its stark, barren vision is immensely striking.

Paul Nash, The Menin Road (Oil on canvas, 1919)

After the war, in 1921, the year of his mental breakdown, he became fixated with the geometry of the landscape.  He painted nature by means of Cezanne's  cylinder, sphere and cone,the cube which he saw naturally appearing in the landscape in the form of giant anti-tank blocks of concrete or man-made groynes.  

Paul Nash, The Shore at Dymchurch (Oil on canvas, 1923)

His most famous work is perhaps a Second World War picture,  Totes Meer, an eerie painting which looks like an abstract  sea of metal waves in the landscape.   

(There's a great little film about Totes Meer here.  )

In fact, as this film and a series of photographs that he took show, Nash was merely painting what he saw, namely a dump of wrecked second world war enemy aircraft near Cowley in Oxfordshire.  

This is perhaps the key to Nash's work - his paintings often look surreal, but in fact they are super-real, they are super-observed.  His chalky, strange, very English landscapes remind me of work by Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Eric Gill.  They are ordered and ancient and pastoral, and yet there is something tortured writhing beneath the surface.

 Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Oil on canvas, 1941)

The last room sadly doesn't have The Battle of Britain, which I'd hoped to see

but it does have a strange sense of floating and flying in the paintings very much like the final room of the recent Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern, where she painted abstract scenes of clouds observed from above.  It's almost like a precursor of death.  

In this room are some of Nash's last series of sunflower paintings (a flower symbolic of life and death), which return to his love of William Blake, being based on his 1794 poem Ah! Sun-flower.

Paul Nash, The Eclipse of the Sunflower (Oil on canvas 1945)

Nash died of heart failure in 1946, and is buried with this stone carving of a hawk on his grave, which he has painted 10 years earlier.

Paul Nash, Landscape from a Dream (Oil on canvas 1936)

Now, as much as I loved the show, there is an annoying thing with moderncurators.  The exhibition is often about curating and the curators more than it is about the artists.  

So here, the agenda is not to introduce Nash to an audience who haven't seen his work, or to showcase him as a war artist, but to present Nash as an 'international modernist painter'.  Which means they dispense with any sort of introduction to the man, as if the paintings spontaneously appear on their own, and that the life of an artist doesn't reflect in and inform the work.  

So, no need to give us a picture of the man, or tell about when he was born, or how he was brought up, or his family, or his mother's illness, or his own mental breakdown, or his lack of personal relationships.  Nope. 'Paul Nash was a key figure in debates about British art's relationship to international modernism' we are told.  What a load of alientating elitist nonsense.  

Which begs the question, just who is this show aimed at?  

People who never been to an art show before? 
People with an interest in art who just want to see something interesting and a bit challenging for an afternoon?
People who have never seen the work of Paul Nash?  
People who perhaps know one aspect of his work, but want to learn more about him?
Experts who are so up on Paul Nash that they would be insulted if you even hinted at any biographical insights?  
Other curators?  

I suspect it's the latter.

So do go to the show - but to get the best out of it, read up on Paul Nash's life and times beforehand. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Colour Catalogues Ready to Go...

Here are the catalogues for 'Colour' at the Lime Tree Gallery Bristol.  

The show opens on Saturday 5th November, and is a feast of vibrant, uplifting exuberant work from 4 Scottish artists - myself, Alison McWhirter, Pam Carter and Peter King.

That's my lovely big painting 'Sunlight on Red Fields, Argyll' on the front cover there.

The preview starts at 10am, and as well as the paintings, there will be refreshments served throughout the day.  Do come along if you're in the area!  All welcome.

If you'd like as copy of the catalogue, just get in touch and let me know.

Friday, 23 September 2016

..Gone Tomorrow

My hare went for £25. £25!!

Probably £20 of that was for the random eagle that was with it...

McTears Auction Page