Lorna Robertson, Robert MacBryde at Kingsgate Project Space
Lorna Robertson, Robert MacBryde is the latest in a series of exhibitions that show works side-by-side made by artists working at different times, and through their juxtaposition forge unexpected or dynamic connections and conversations.
Lorna Robertson lives and works in Glasgow. Paintings on paper, line the walls of her studio and return periodically to a live stack of works-in-progress on a table top. These paintings slowly gather coloured patches, fragments of text, figures, flower blooms, domestic interiors and garden spaces. The paintings wear not just the consequence of decision making, but they embody the managed risk, reactive thinking and material action at the heart of the very moment of each decision. As complex surfaces, many former painting-decisions remain as a trace and are able to be read through later skins. And these are then available to be understood in concert with the colours, marks and forms that coalesce the resultant work. There is a verticality and an insistence on shallow pictorial space within many of these works. Like a climbing rose or passion flower weaving through the armature of a trellis, blooming, fading and re-appearing in another place, Robertson’s paintings seem to grow through the slow time of their making. They retain a sense of the exchange between what is visible and invisible; what is present and what remains as potential. The paintings map on to the person of the painter, but they describe most eloquently how that painter navigates and processes stimuli, emotional states and visual becoming.
Robert MacBryde (1913-66) was the companion, confidant and lover of Robert Colquhoun (1914-62). Together ‘The 2 Roberts’ tore through the decorum of 1940s and 50s London, becoming notorious, celebrated, regarded and reviled in equal measure. Despite the tumult of their private and public lives, MacBryde’s still life paintings from the mid-1940 on become a site for complex and tender expressions and repressions to be exercised. Exotic fruits in full ripeness anthropomorphise into surrogate portraits on table tops within rooms that have consumed and regurgitated European Synthetic Cubism. The shadow of the painter falls across the motif, reminding us of the painter’s presence before the still life, and significantly his absence – dying relatively young and in the peripheries of an art world which had long since found other painters to lionise.