With all its eyes by Audrey Grant

Sunday, 9 August 2015

If you have time to take in only one exhibition this summer, Audrey Grant’s at the Union Gallery is a strong contender for your attention.

Spurtle has covered Grant’s work several times before (see 4.3.13) , on each occasion admiring her humane but unflinching studies of the human form. She dwells upon its external and internal flaws, its dislocations and imbalances, finding in these imperfections a kind of vulnerable beauty, even nobility.

Such themes are in evidence again here, although this time often referenced through the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, whose lines are sometimes quoted in the paintings’ titles or scratched onto the surfaces of the works themselves.

Before going any further, let me urge you to get close to Grant's work. Much of the pleasure it gives comes from the energy with which the paint has been applied – thick, delicious swirls and drips and daubs. This is textured in every sense.

The title of this strand of the exhibition comes from the eighth of the Duino Elegies, in which – as C.M. Bowra points out – Rilke simultaneously embraced and lamented the dark side of existence, distress and anxiety.

It begins:

With all its eyes the natural world looks out

into the Open.

Rilke goes on to describe a natural way of being, in

… that pure

unseparated element which one breathes

without desire and endlessly knows.

This is the world briefly inhabited by children, lovers, those very close to death. It’s the world as momentarily experienced in moments of feral connection:

… when some animal

mutely, serenely, looks us through and through.

 

… But it feels its life as boundless,

unfathomable, and without regard

to its own condition: pure, like its outward gaze.

And where we see the future, it sees all time

and itself within all time, forever healed.

By contrast, Rilke sees humans as too often contorted, introspective, weighed down by a sense of time and approaching extinction. These, perhaps, are some of the same twisted and misshapen subjects of Grant’s earlier studies.

In this exhibition, however, it seems to me that she has moved on. Her figures now appear more self-assertive, fluent, sometimes even graceful.

They have begun to turn out of two-dimensions, to achieve a clarity of vision, a lightness, a flight which Rilke said was attainable through candid and whole-hearted immersion in art. These are the sentiments of his Sonnets to Orpheus, echoed in Grant's 'Look at the flowers' …

... an exhortation to stop being 'enthralled with our own heaviness' and instead join 'all those companions in the wind of the meadows'.

Art as apotheosis, argues Rilke, transforms experience, turns Lament into Praise:

Yet awkward as she is, she suddenly

lifts a constellation of our voice,

glittering, into the pure nocturnal sky.

The first strand of this exhibition is a kind of creative dialectic across time and genres, and the same could be said of the second: 'Natural Philosophy'.

Here, 'phrases, diagrams and mathematical symbols' extracted from the notes of Professor Mike Cates FRS (an Edinburgh University academic), are incorporated into reworked photographs which Grant took earlier this year of the sea at Gamrie Bay.

Science and art combine to describe flow: be it flow in the water, sea mist, emulsions, paint, or more abstractly in the results of human intervention.

The generous application of lithium grease or latex confounds one's expectations of the flat photograph, of the captured image it contains.

And so there is in these works on paper another kind of transformative process ...

an attention to the almost alchemical possibilities of photographic development, advances in knowledge, shifts in perspective.

In this way, whilst apparently very different, the two halves of Grant's exhibition are complementary and form a whole. They both address the texture of creative change.

The works on show here challenge, occasionally baffle, but are consistently exciting and often very beautiful. You don't need to read Rilke or to study Natural Philosophy to enjoy them – ultimately, they speak for themselves. Do go and see them.

AM

Read the original review at the Spurtle website

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Reviews

Strokes that Bind

Henry Jabbour Seated Man

Henry Jabbour at the UNIONgallery

12 March 2017

Like many others locally, we’ve missed the Union Gallery since its removal from Broughton Street to larger premises on Drumsheugh Place.

A visit to the West End on Friday showed that Union’s owner Alison Auldjo has lost none of her knack for finding and nurturing great new talent, most recently that of Henry Jabbour.

Jabbour came late to painting, and was already a successful scientist with the Medical Research Council by the time he joined Leith School of Art in 2005. Consumed by this new calling, he became a full-time artist two years later.

This Life to Me is his first solo exhibition, and it’s a phenomenally successful debut.

Review: This Life To Me

 

‘Scientist who quit job to paint lands first solo art exhibit’

By Eleanor Duffy

Henry Jabbour quit his medical research job in order to pursue a love of art

henry jabbour

Photo - Colin Hattersley

An Edinburgh scientist is to open his first solo art exhibition after leaving behind his career to follow his dream.

Henry Jabbour worked for nearly 20 years in the Medical School at Edinburgh University but quit in 2010 to pursue his love of art full-time.

Despite training to be a biologist, Henry found his true calling in painting and has since studied at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh and the New York Academy of Art.

His prints and portraiture work have won praise in the art world and he is now preparing for the launch of his first solo exhibition this weekend.

Sapphire Skies

roscullen tulips 2016 ii jenny matthews

A solo exhibition by Jenny Matthews: UNIONgallery – a bouquet of fragrant flowers

6 September 2016

UNIONgallery is owned and managed by contemporary artist Alison Auldjo. Originally opening on Broughton Street in 2009, the stylish new premises at the West End has the ideal space and design over two floors to show solo exhibitions, mixed collections, crafts and sculpture. The emphasis is on showing work from established painters who do not exhibit in Scotland, to exciting new Scottish and international talent.

Jenny Matthews studied at Edinburgh College of Art under Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, John Houston and Ann Oran, graduating in 1986. Since then, she has earned a fine reputation as an accomplished watercolourist, exhibiting in the UK and abroad.

Stepping into the Uniongallery to see her new solo exhibition, ‘Sapphire Skies,’ is like taking a stroll across country meadows and along the seashore, so tangible that you can almost smell the fragrant flowers. The soft shades of pinks, mauve, coral red and corn yellow, capture their natural beauty and texture, from beautifully arranged vases and bouquets to land and seacapes and decorative still life compositions.

Here are the first buds of Spring and Summer gardens, a flourish of sweet peas, irises and parrot tulips, as well as pretty thrift and lichen sprouting along the rocky shore at St. Abbs. The artistry is exquisite, meticulous botanical drawings, detailing each petal, stamen, puffs of pollen and green leaf, enhanced through the subtle tone and translucent quality of watercolour.

Jenny Matthews | Union Gallery

Three Jenny Mathews paintings at the Union Gallery

16 August 2016 Adam Barclay

UNIONGallery, 4 Drumsheugh Pl, Edinburgh
Exhibition continues until September 12
Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am – 5.30pm

The UNION Gallery had their first solo exhibition launch at their new premises on Drumsheugh Place this week, and what a strong first impression it was! The new space, previously a low ceilinged charity shop, is unrecognisable as a classic Edinburgh gallery, resplendent with cornicing and high ceilings! It makes for a fantastic space to show off the works of award-winning water-colourist Jenny Mathews in her third solo exhibition.

The pieces on display are varied in style and dimension but all share a distinctly high quality and impressive artistic feel. With several pieces having been reserved even as they were being hung, it was obvious that Jenny’s work is in high demand. Large works to tie whole rooms together were displayed, alongside horizontal sets, unusual for the artist, and smaller high-detail pieces. Jenny studied botanical illustration under Dame Elizabeth Blackadder and the inspiration is clear in her work, supremely detailed botanical images but with a clear style of her own.

ReUnion

Ophelia Bathing

17 July 2016

When Alison Auldjo began converting a former charity shop into the second incarnation of the Union Gallery, removing a lowered ceiling and turning a pokey back storage room into a well-lit stairwell, she knew exactly the picture she wanted in the space. It was Phil Braham’s Ophelia Bathing, a painting she had seen in the Scottish Gallery a few years ago, when it was ‘best in show’ but went unsold. “I went to see him to tell him about the new place, ‘Phil, come and see the space, you will see exactly what I mean about your painting’,” she said. The work  uses a backdrop from the Water of Leith; Ophelia is bathing, not drowning, It is unobtrusively thought-provoking: the bather’s shoulders above smooth water, calmly swimming a ladylike breast-stroke, in a moment of reflection, before Hamlet stirs things up.

Auldjo put a second considerable picture by Braham in the window of her gallery for its reopening a few weeks back. The work, 21st Century Sublime, shows rolling hills around a Scottish valley cloaked in misty skies, the kind of view you’d find coming down from a Munro, but Graham’s last touch was to put a fighter jet flicking across it. “We have all seen scenes like that in the Highlands. It’s eery, it’s quite bleak, but it’s beautiful,” said Auldjo. My first ill-thought guess is Glencoe; but it’s more the gentler landscape of Aviemore, where two low-flying planes roared past on a recent walk, their sound gathering behind them.

When Auldjo closed the Union Gallery in Broughton Street, after seven years on a wonderfully prominent corner of one of Edinburgh’s couthiest streets, I had wondered if she would really be back. There are too many stories of galleries that seem to wilt under pressure: in Edinburgh the old Doggerfisher, the recently downsized Ingleby Gallery, in London the impact of skyrocketing real estate. I’ve heard old dealers lately saying traditional Scottish art markets are dead, and artists facing hard times, though that is not exactly new.

From The Blog

Art Scotland Interview with Kevin Low

Sisters IV

16th August 2017

Kevin Low is an artist living and working in Glasgow, his new exhibition Women & Men is currently on show at the Union Gallery in Edinburgh.

What drives your passion – when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?


It’s an obsession. It’s something I have to do, or I get sick. I hesitate to say that because I think that’s how most artists feel. I don’t have a choice. That makes it sound like it’s a chore, like being bullied by the subconscious, but nah, it’s a bloody thrill, every time. There is nothing better in the world than creating stuff.

As a kid, I grew up on a farm. I expected to become a cattleman, I really did. It was a very small world. I think it was pop music that gave me that first buzz in my gut, that invitation to step away from the ‘real world’. Mr David Bowie, I owe you a lot.

Zone One Arts Interview with Henry Jabbour

College Porter 2 by Henry Jabbour

You trained initially as a biologist and worked as a scientist, has this part of your past influenced your current art practice of painting people?

I am sure it has but sometimes it is very difficult to pinpoint how.

I firmly believe that the way I look at, and my empathy towards, the human figure is hugely influenced and informed by my past experiences (being brought up in Lebanon at the time of the civil war) and my subsequent education.

Scots Magazine - Cannae Miss it

The Cannae Miss List: March 3 – 9

HenryAnd Dennis

 Photo - Colin Hattersley

Dennis the Dog and his new best friend, artist Henry Jabbour, would like you to have a look at the Scots Magazine's website. There's a tremendous photo of Dennis there, and something about a great new exhibition. But the photo of Dennis is just the bestest thing ever!

While we admit we're a little biased, we have to agree with the Scots magazine (and Dennis) - this is a great exhibition of exquisite works by Henry Jabbour, and you really shouldn't miss it!

Read the full article at the Scots Magazine website

 

Press Release: James Newton Adams

‘AYE EYE’

FIRST EDINBURGH SOLO SHOW FOR SKYE ARTIST JAMES NEWTON ADAMS

Aye-Eye

The exhibition will open on September 4th at the Union Gallery in Edinburgh. With a selection of new paintings and wrought iron sculpture, James invites viewers to look and, as the show’s title suggests, see, through the eyes of the characters in his created world. Using his distinctive and very direct style, the artist reflects on his own experience of life in the Highlands and Islands.