83 Henderson Row,
Stockbridge in Edinburgh has a well-deserved reputation for having an excellent array of art galleries, and Alan Lennon’s establishment is certainly no exception. Most recently, he has joined up with Michael Cook in the aptly-titled Common Ground co-exhibition. Whilst the title lends itself to the partnership, it is also a profound reflection of both artists’ preoccupation with communication between painting and viewer.
Lennon’s style has a roundness of form that is evocative of Seurat: the substantial figures often crowd the space upon the canvas, nevertheless sharply juxtaposed with a soft but deliberate application of paint. Contemplation runs thematically through most of his collection: the eyes of the subjects are usually closed, and their positions portray an act of introspection. On the other hand, the application of paint by Cook bears a greater similarity with Seurat’s technique; Cook’s style, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Metzinger’s figurative cubism, and there is a greater emphasis on placing the painting’s subject within nature.
Where the two artists technically meet is in their choice of colour palette. Shades of vermillion, ochre, and sienna fuse and run into Brandeis blue, teal, and cerulean. It is perhaps in the meeting of these opposites, and in their stark contrasts, that the pieces find depth upon the canvas and truly come to life.
Art has not reached its inherent goal unless it has made some kind of connection with its viewer. Whilst this phenomenon is subjective by its very nature, Common Ground is universal in its subject. Whether the figures are connecting with one another, with nature, or with themselves in isolation, these captured moments of reflection are initially strange in their surrealism, before solidarity inevitably floats to the surface. It is in our nature to search for ourselves in the faces we see.
Written by Madeline Gresham.