Colour, light, harmony and the Scottish avant-garde. Four artists are brought together for the first time in THE SCOTTISH COLOURISTS 1900—1930.
Words: Claire Mitchell
Dreich. A good Scottish word and all too familiar. It expresses the lowering, deadencd light that comes into its own at this time of year. But injecting something a little brighter into the drizzled November landscape is the National Galleries of Scotland exhibition of works by the Scottish Colourists.
‘Colourism’ may never have existed as an art movement as such — no manifestos, no specific group style — but the four artists grouped under the posthumous title of the Scottish Colourists are now appreciated as important players in the history of British Modern art. Yet, surprisingly, this exhibition is the first to bring the works of Fergusson, Peploe, Hunter and Cadell together in one public gallery.
Philip Long, curator of Edinburgh’s Dean Gallery, says that rather than creating a survey of ‘Scottish Colourism’, padding out the exhibition with work of varying quality, he wanted to ‘exhibit a key selection of significant works from the artistic careers of these four men’. Finding the paintings hung chronologically and artists displayed next to each other in the four rooms at the top of the gallery, visitors will be able to put the prominent Scottish Colourist works into their proper context.
In their day, Fergusson, Peploe, Hunter and Cadell were also known as ‘Les peintres de L’Ecosse
86 THE “31' 2—16 Nov 2000
From somewhere between Whistler's symphonies and Matisse's harmonies comes original, lyrical, glorious Scottish colour.
The Black Hat by F.C.B. Cadell
moderne’, a title that reveals the inﬂuence of French avant-garde art on their paintings. All four artists spent a great deal of time in France, soaking up a more vibrant and luminous Mediterranean light, surrounded by the blazing colour, pure form and line of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism. Revelling in their new Bohemian society, the Scottish Colourists began to incorporate the rich, ringing colours and the innovative plastic quality of Fauvism into their own works. The results are stunning; but why should these four Scottish artists have forgone the so very fashionable Aesthetic movement in Britain for the ‘vulgarity‘ of the savage Fauves?
Putting the work of these artists into a clear
chronological context shows that as well as being in -
the right place at the right time, the Scottish Colourists grew up within an artistic atmosphere dominated by the Glasgow Boys, who were, in turn, influenced by avant-garde painting in 19th century France. Scottish Colourist works were produced partly due to chance and partly due to natural progression. This mix of the vernacular and the modern had striking results that are richly evocative of the times.
The 70 works on show at the Dean Gallery cover the period I900 to I930, from the turn of the century, through World War I, the rhythmical jazz age and on
towards the geometry of Art Deco. What Philip Long
hopes the exhibition will demonstrate is that the Scottish Colourists were not slavisth copying French Modernism, but were instead always ‘on the cusp of avant-garde movements’. From somewhere between Whistler’s symphonies and Matisse‘s harmonies comes original, lyrical, glorious Scottish colour.
The Scottish Colourists 1900-1930, The Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 4 Nov-Sun 28 Jan.
News and views from the world of art
EDINBURGH’S COLLECTIVE GALLERY is inviting first year art students to attend a special open evening on Wednesday 8 November from 6—8pm. In an effort to introduce students to the gallery and to meet recently graduated artists from Scottish art schools, six artists including Jonathan Owen, Katy Dove and Mick Peter will give an informal talk about their experiences, providing a perfect opportunity to discover what happened to them between graduating and exhibiting. Open initially to Edinburgh College of Art students only, plans are afoot to extend the programme of talks to other schools. Watch this space.
PLANNING A TRIP down south? The ever controversial Turner Prize 2000 exhibition is now on show at London's Tate Britain offering visitors the chance the work of the four shortlisted artists, Glenn Brown, Michael Raedecker, Tomoko Takahasi and Wolfgang Tillmans. The winner, who will receive £20,000 will be announced on Tuesday 28 November, broadcast live on Channel 4.
GLASGOW PLAYS HOST to an international arts gathering at Tramway from Thursday 16-Saturday 18 November. Arts 8: Communities Association Scotland and Banlieues d'Europe are combining resources for this major conference entitled 'Arts and Social Inclusion'. Delegates come from diverse geographic and political backgrounds, with all participants seeking to engage in a constructive debate. For further information and booking, contact Arts & Communities, (/0 Alan Tweedie Associates, 1 Roseneath Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1.18 or call 0131 229 6577 as soon as possible are places are limited.
CAN'T FIND A space to show your work? Then why not take a peek at Nexus Galleries on Edinburgh’s Bread Street. Offering three centrally located exhibition spaces with all mod cons, artists, designers or craftspeople can hire out the one of the galleries for one day or more. Help and advice on how to get started is also on offer for those who require assistance. And for the three weeks running up to Christmas, a special offer package has been put together. For further information call 0131 622 8141.
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The Turner Prize: Will Glenn Brown's work get your vote?