Scottish Women exhibition in Dean Gallery of Modern Art, National Galleries of Scotland
Centenary exhibition at Modern Art gallery, centenary in a sense that women in art became an independent cultural phenomen about hundred years ago, becoming a separate art movement rather than shameful exception or occasional “fantastic artist who also happened to be woman” but still having a male flair around persona, like Artemisia Gentilesci.
Almost omitting The Glasgow Girls created in parallel with The Glasgow Boys between former graduates of Glasgow College of Art, it mainly focuses on figures of Glasgow Art Society and Glasgow Society of Lady Artists. Funnily my favourite painting in the exhibition, which caught my eye by controlled and confident refinement, was made by then president of both, Mary Armour (Steel), but it is omitted from the exhibition catalogue so i cannot post is as photos are not allowed.
Historically, Glasgow female artist movement, as well as otherwise in Scotland and rest of Europe and unlike previously, when painting was considered a bit of a finishing school merit in fine families rather than “god forbid” independent career, was initiated and roofed by labour political movement and raptured middle-class women aiming to give them sense of self-worth, life zeal and nonetheless income.
But Scottish female artists came strikingly strong and original, be it something in the soil, food they eat or air they breath. Many were married to fellow male artists, often Glasgow Boys or Scottish Colorists, some came from artistic families, some unattached and nonetheless strong and unique.
Presenting here 3 incomparable self-portraits. Striking composition, confident colour use, insightful study of anatomy. Utterly brilliant.
I myself have enormous personal interest in Phoebe Traquair, both because of name deeply rooted in history, mythological and religious rather than social themes, and her elaborate work with frescos and later embroidery. To my enormous surprise i could not chase away similarity between her featured technique of oil paining imitating porcelain, where darker colour is layered upon uneven in texture light layer, the technique i naively had used on my very first oil paining 10 years ago, which i am intermingling here with photos from exhibition catalogue.