Galleries - January 2015

Scottish modernist painters – from their childhoods in Ayrshire, through their pre-war period at Glasgow School of Art, on to their spectacular impact on the London art scene when they were bought by the likes of the Tate and MOMA, to their equally rapid fall into alcoholism, oblivion and their early deaths in the 1960s. Hopefully we can now see past their tragic story, and with such a comprehensive exhibition, assess the validity and strength of their contribution to the development of modern art in this country. No longer can they be dismissed as a mere footnote to the likes of Sutherland and Bacon but will have to be regarded as important pioneers and inventive exponents of a mode of pictorial expression which would revolutionise British figurative art. Bill Hare Facing the Artist So much has been written about the breathtaking Rembrandt show at the National Gallery that I am not quite sure what can be added at this late stage except just to say go and see it if you haven't already – it closes on 18 January. The main thoughts that remain with me lie in the paintings' powerful resonance for the present moment, their extraordinary modernity of thought and feeling and, out of that, the quiet affirmation of the unique power of the painted mark to reach out across vast producing work that really stirs and excites both eye and mind – with paper-cuts, sculpture and animation as well as more conventional watercolour and collage among the rich and varied mix. It really is invidious to single out individual figures here so just go to the web site or Abbey Walk's (see listing) and follow the links. Or just go! Meanwhile congratulations to Gill and Elaine for putting it on in the first place . . . Two Roberts Recently there have been welcome moves to reinstate Colquhoun and MacBryde back into a significant place in the canon of British modern art. They always had their champions such as Cyril Gerber and Dave Brown, but this recent renaissance has gained momentum with dedicated writers like Roger Bristow with his extensive monograph. This critical interest has been supported by others, especially The Scottish Gallery and now the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is lending its considerable institutional weight to the cause with this major retrospective exhibition – 'The Two Roberts' – superbly curated by Patrick Elliot. Over 60 paintings, 70 drawings and monotypes and a treasure trove of photographs and archive material traces the critical and commercial rise and fall of these 10 GALLERIES JANUARY 2015 ANTENNAE Forest of Possibility Looking at the quite stunning display of imaginative inventiveness and technical creativity of the work of the seven young artists included in the exhibition 'The Forest of Possibility', at Grimsby's Abbey Walk (from 7 January and then touring to Scarborough, Skipton and Thirsk), I find myself hugely heartened by the promise it holds out for the future of the visual arts in our often somewhat depressingly predictable artistic climate. It makes me impatient too, of course, with the over-hyping of a certain small group of largely London-based artists, YBAs and their kind. But rather than wasting time bewailing that, I think I should just encourage you to jump on a train or get in a car and go and see this show, wherever you live. Organised by the Yorkshire-based visual arts promotional organisation Chrysalis, ex-public museums curator Natasha Howes was invited to put together an exhibition that explores the ways in which our deepest imagination is stirred by the poetic mysteries of the forest and nature, folk-lore and fairytale. The artists she has found, both British and European, are all uniformly outstanding, the apparent limitations imposed by having to work on paper and on a comparatively small scale for a touring show no bar to their