ISSUE 27 / SPRING/SUMMER 2017 DIRECTOR’S NOTE
Scottish artists have always made great travellers, escaping the chill northern climes and Presbyterianism in search of fresh ideas, inspiring subject matter, colour, light and la vie Boheme. To celebrate Scotland’s presence at the 2017 Venice Biennale with Rachel Maclean’s installation at the Scotland + Venice exhibition at Chiesa di Santa Caterina, this issue has a special focus on Scottish artists’ fascination with La Serenissima in the 20th century. For some, such as the mid-20th century tyros, Allan Davie, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull, contact with the city launched their international careers. Davie’s first visit in 1948 coincided with the Venice Biennale and the showing of Peggy Guggenheim’s radical collection including works by Jackson Pollock. Later that year, the impresario of American expressionism went on to buy one of Davie’s American-inspired paintings and her support secured him shows in London and New York. Venice was also the making of the two Scottish experimentalists, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull, whose work was included in the 1952 British Pavilion’s ground-breaking exhibition ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’. The impact on their careers was life-changing although Turnbull was unable to bask in the glory, recalling: ‘I was completely broke and working the night shift at a Lyons Maid ice-cream factory and couldn’t afford to go to Venice.’ Our survey of Scots in Venice includes two quieter artistic personalities, the neglected Edwardian swagger painter, Charles Hodge Mackie, and Anne Redpath, both of whom have important works in the Fleming Collection; and in a display of Celtic solidarity, we also introduce the Welsh and Irish artists showing in Venice. In an issue which shines the spotlight on Scots artists abroad, what better moment to celebrate the opening of Scottish Colourists from the Fleming Collection at the Granary Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed. This exhibition marks the first UK initiative of the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation’s ‘museum without walls’ strategy, which signals the start of a touring programme to other institutions at home and abroad.
1 Camille Bernard, Harvest, courtesy of the artist
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A taster of the works on show is published on page 38. It highlights the influence of cutting edge French painters on SJ Peploe, JD Fergusson and George Leslie Hunter, and – in FCB Cadell’s case – the revelation of his 1910 trip to Venice. Fergusson also had form in Venice, first showing at the biennale in 1907. The brilliance of the Scots at surfing the zeitgeist is exemplified by the Colourists which saw Fergusson and Peploe mixing with the likes of Picasso and the Fauves in Paris in 1907; and George Leslie Hunter befriending the surreal cook Alice B Toklas and, I like to think, her lover, Gertrude Stein, with her unrivalled collection of modern art. Gertrude Stein was the Peggy Guggenheim of her day – both women explored the frontiers of contemporary art, where intrepid Scots artists are invariably to be found. The Fleming-Wyfold Art Bursary continues to seek out innovative work by the best young artists to emerge from the Scottish art schools. The choice is made from a selection from the degree shows exhibited at RSA New Contemporaries in Edinburgh. This year’s winner is Glasgow School of Art graduate, Camille Bernard, who was awarded a bursary of £10,000, with an additional £4000 to support production costs in the year ahead, making it the most generous award of the Royal Scottish Academy exhibition. Narrative painter and filmmaker Bernard, born of a French father and Scottish mother, is just the latest in a stream of Scottish-trained talent to reflect the potency of the ‘Auld Alliance’.
Closer to home, this year is the 250th anniversary of the founding of Edinburgh’s New Town. To mark the occasion, The Scottish Gallery, which celebrates its own 175th anniversary, is staging an exhibition by one of Scotland’s outstanding water colourists, Hugh Buchanan, who has long been inspired by Scotland’s architecture. His monumental work, Cadell’s Orange Blind, pays homage to FCB Cadell’s sense of design and colour, famously expressed in the decoration of his exquisite studio in the New Town’s Ainslie Place which was depicted by the artist in Interior: The Orange Blind (1927). Like all fine Scottish painters, Buchanan’s take on the subject has a contemporary twist: ‘It is at the same time a tribute or perhaps just a nod to Rothko,’ he writes ‘designed to slightly unsettle the viewer by removing the tapering perspective so that although one sees the underneath of the balcony one also appears to be floating in mid air.’ Another example of a Scots painter using international precedent to push against the boundaries of his art.
Kate Downie Anatomy of Haste 3 August — 2 September 2017 www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/katedownie Image: Tokyo (The Hand), oil on canvas, 110 x 200 cms (detail)
2 Hugh Buchanan, Cadell’s Orange Blind, 1927, watercolour, 152.4cm x 76.2cm. Courtesy Scottish Gallery (see Diary for exhibition dates)
3 John Duncan Fergusson (1874–1961), Blue Nude, c.1912. On show at the Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed
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