Scottish artists Alberto Morrocco, William Littlejohn and David McClure feature in Kinblethmont Gallery exhibition
The artists Alberto Morrocco, William Littlejohn and David McClure were all contemporaries who painted in distinct modern styles influenced both by European painting and the Scottish tradition epitomised by the Scottish colourists. Much acclaimed in their lifetimes, all three had long and distinguished careers. The also held major teaching posts in Scotland, playing a formative role in the development of modern Scottish painting. The exhibition is an unusual opportunity to see so much work spanning several years of their careers; approximately 45 works in all will be shown.
Perhaps the most famous of the three, Alberto Morrocco is well known for his powerful use of colour and line with his distinctive flattened form and simplified perspective. Born in Aberdeen of Italian descent, he studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen under James Cowie who was a major influence on his early work and gave him a life long love of the Italian Quattrocento, with its strong emphasis on drawing and simplified colour. Going on to become Head of Painting at Dundee's Duncan Jordanstone College of Art, Morrocco was also a frequent visitor to Europe and is well known for his beach scenes and views of Venice as well as his still-lifes and Scottish landscapes. The paintings in the exhibition cover a long period in his career and include early landscapes, a major triptych entitled of Life Class Triptych, portraits and a range of his more typical landscapes and still-lifes.
Morrocco and David McClure were friends and colleagues for many years at Duncan Jordanstone College of Art where McClure taught from 1957—1985, succeeding Morrocco as Head of Painting in 1982. The two died within months of each other in 1998, and their works have many similarities. Having studied at Edinburgh Art College where Anne Redpath, William Gilles and John Maxwell were all major influences on his work, McClure became a 'Bevin Boy' during the war, working in the coalmines that at the time strongly influenced his work. Like Morrocco he was a frequent visitor to Europe, travelling in Spain and Italy and capturing the sun and light of these countries in his use of strong Mediterranean colours. This show includes a very wide range of his work, from Scottish scenes such as Crail Harbour to Tuscan and Spanish works, still-lifes and images such as Bird of Passage that contain references to Braque and Picasso.
The third artist, William Littlejohn, was born in Arbroath in 1929 and worked mainly in watercolour. James Cowie inspired him, as did Chinese and Japanese art, and his abstract watercolours show these influences in their use of colour tone and combination of abstract patterns and figurative motifs. On his death he bequeathed the contents of his studio to the RSA, who are lending six works for the exhibition.
Alberto Morrocco, David McClure and William Littlejohn, Kinblethmont Gallery, Arbroath, Sat 23 Apr—Sun 8 May.