Saturday, 7 November 2009

Exhibition Review

ALISSA HYSLOP Sea Salsa acrylic on board £850

Here's a review of our current exhibtion. An edited version of this article appeared in The Galloway News on the 5th November.

McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas opened their new exhibition with a lively, well attended, Friday evening Preview Event. Since then, the work on show has been much admired and complimented on by gallery regulars and new customers alike.

The exhibition is showcasing the work of four artists: Anita Klein, Aliisa Hyslop, Ken Grierson and Ewan McClure. Both Anita Klein and Aliisa Hyslop are internationally recognised for their striking figurative work. They both depict the human form in affectionate and often humorous ways. Their endearing paintings and prints have been published by Canns Down press as Greetings Cards, so many will feel familiar with their work.

Anita Klein is one of Britain’s most prestigious and popular printmakers and is a past president of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. Her depictions of Angels range from sensuous to mischievous. A large Carborundum print ‘Angel with a Bottle of Wine’ sweeps through the sky, with a glass of red wine in one hand, and a bottle in the other, ready to top up her glass! Klein is a master of composition. As a student at Slade School of Art she was awarded a travelling scholarship, which enabled her to spend time in Italy studying frescos. She fell in love with the frescos of Piero Della Francesca, and his masterly composition still influences her own work. She now lives part of the time in Italy and this year had a major exhibition in London of her ‘Italian Angel’ paintings. She painted 52 angels, which represented the changing seasons and ‘everyday miracles’, such as the lemon trees or the lavender plants which abound in her town in Italy. McGill Duncan Gallery is selling signed copies of her book, which accompanied this project.

Aliisa Hyslop made her first visit from her home to near Edinburgh to Castle Douglas for the Exhibition Opening. Jill and Zoë contacted her over a year ago to ask her to exhibit and were so pleased when the paintings Aliisa had been working on for them arrived. Aliisa’s work can’t help but provoke an affectionate response from the viewer. They have a calm, otherwordly feel about them. Her subjects are often placed in a snowy landscape, perhaps reflecting her part Finnish heritage. Aliisa’s painting ‘Sea Salsa’, hanging in the front room of the gallery ‘makes people smile as they come through the door’ say gallery owners Zoë and Jill Blamire.

Ken Grierson and Ewan McClure both work with traditional mediums and their subjects - landscape and still life – give the exhibition grounding and hang perfectly next to the obviously feminine figurative works by Anita Klein and Aliisa Hyslop. Ken Grierson has produced an outstanding body of Galloway Landscapes for the show. His pencil drawings have an almost musical, rhythmic quality, to them. All his pencil strokes travel in the same direction, but the line of each stroke is composed of many tones and breaks. This builds a picture that people are drawn into. Carrick and Loch Ken are featured as well as his home patch of Parton. Ken Grierson is known for his bespoke hand screen-printed fabrics and he has used this affinity with fabric to paint some of the paintings on calico. ‘Parton Mill Burn’ is painted with gouache on calico. The surface of the painting has a wonderful texture and it was noted at the Opening Night that the river direction changes, depending on the side from which you view the painting! Ken said he wasn’t aware he was creating this effect when he was working on the painting but this trick of the eye has caused much interest from customers in the gallery.

The only artist showing works in oils is a master of this medium. Ewan McClure’s work demonstrates a deep understanding and study of ‘The Old Masters’. His still life studies make the ordinary into the extraordinary. His painting ‘Stirrers’, of a pot of wooden spoons, has made many visitors comment with affection on the pot in their own kitchen, where they keep their wooden spoons. Giving each of his subjects - no matter how ordinary - is one of Ewan’s great talents. A rainy day on his holiday in Spain this summer is remembered in his painting ‘Rainy Ronda’. He shows the way the pavement glistened with puddles and how people huddled together in their rain macs. Viewers are amazed by the way he has conveyed the wetness of the downpour and the shiny rain coats with their plastic transparency. Perhaps it also serves as a reminder of our own recent rainy summer in Galloway!

The exhibition continues until Saturday 28th November.

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