This month, one of Scotland’s leading commercial galleries, the Fine Art Society in Dundas Street, reintroduces two artists who have made, in very different ways, a significant impact in the past.
The works of Edwin Lucas had been in storage for over sixty years until they were discovered by a curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art last year, a decade after his death. The first show attracted headlines in the national press and this is the sequel. Lucas is an enigmatic figure, as Patrick Elliott has said: “He’s got nothing in common with anyone painting in Scotland at the time”.
Largely self-taught as an artist and working in the 1930s and 40s, his subjects range from portraits and outdoor landscapes to abstract fusions of shapes and forms.
What comes through the paintings is his passion for the surrealist style and a kind of escapism, his vibrant colours and intricate brushwork take the viewer into another dimension. Little wonder that he now hangs in the SNGMA with surrealist masterpieces by the likes of Picasso and Miro.
In the upstairs gallery are the stone carvings of British sculptor, Emily Young, who first showed at the Fine Art Society in London in 1997 where she achieved almost instant success.
Her primary objective is to bring the natural beauty and energy of her stone to the fore. Out of the stone emerge ancient, symbolic heads, as if discovered within the stone – almost an archeological exercise, rediscovered totems from ancient Egypt perhaps. Each sculpture, dotted around the room on separate plinths, has a unique character due to each stone’s geological history and geographical source.
There is something incredibly human and truthful about them. She is trying to get the medium of her artwork to speak out. Young is preoccupied with the troubled relationship modern society has with its planet and she uses these powerful stone heads to encourage her viewers to reflect on this. Her sculptures are just as alive as Lucas’ paintings downstairs, but quieter and more reflective.
There is a clear purpose behind her work: she encourages us to reflect on our relationship with the past, and with nature. The open space, and natural light pouring through the big windows of the upstairs gallery space, helps to create this meditative space.
Taken together, these exhibitions provide a moving experience: Lucas’ paintings literally excavated from the past, Young’s sculpture apparently so.