The Scottish Gallery
7 August – 5 September
I hear, as an Englishwoman, that James Morrison is a rather big deal here in his homeland. A long and distinguished career in landscape painting and broadcasting has preceded this showing of forty or so beautiful paintings at the Scottish Gallery. Despite being naively unaware of the established roots of the artist on entering the cool space earlier this month, I was besotted.
Oil and board are used sparingly but effectively to convey the magnitude and energy of the Scottish landscape. The pieces do not rely on enormous size, lashings of impasto or photorealism to achieve a phenomenal impact. In fact, it seems that the oils are used as washes rather than layered up in thick daubs, particularly for the skies. This, as well as generating a paler, greyer palette of colour that could well have been distilled from the clouds themselves, also creates a sense of movement. The fine brush marks still visible make areas more dynamic whilst the land is rendered in more solid strokes.
The highlands and, more importantly it seems, the skies above them are popular with landscape painters but rarely is such accomplishment and understanding evident. Not so much beautiful as handsome, Loch Glencoul and Pentland really held my eye with sterner shapes and colours than other more optimistic pieces such as First Snow.
Physical features are easy to recreate in painting, less so are emotions yet it seems that each of the pieces in this exhibition have distinct personality. Becoming better acquainted is a joy.
When, not if, you make it, pop down the stairs for a moment where a beguiling set of ceramics – Popes, pin-ups and Pooches as well as some phenomenally delicate (and dangerously covetable) jewellery are also on display.