A retrospective exhibition of the pioneering collagist and printmaker Philip Reeves RSA (1931 – 2017) will go on view at the Royal Scottish Academy in April, comprised of works from the extensive studio collection gifted to the RSA by the artist’s family. Reeves brought the tenets of European Modernism to Scottish art, creating collages and prints that centre on the formation of shape, line and colour. A large portion of the Reeves studio gift has been accessioned to the collection of the Royal Scottish Academy and the works on exhibition will be available for purchase to raise funds for the research and conservation of the collection and to promote Reeves’ work.
The exhibition will chart the trajectory of Reeves’ career, with abstracted seascapes from his early years through to the complexly textured collages and elegantly formal prints of his later years. Known for his economy of form and appropriation of scrap materials, Reeves was a virtuosic printmaker and is credited with reinvigorating the practice in Scotland. When Reeves joined the faculty at Glasgow School of Art, printmaking was part of the design department and considered a ‘commercial’ art, as he put it. Reeves worked hard to rejuvenate the medium, raise its profile and reposition it within the fine arts. He was critically involved in the inception of the first open-access print workshop in the UK, Edinburgh Printmakers, and then latterly Glasgow Print Studios. Vitally important in the elevation of the status of printmaking from that of a craft to that of an art form in Scotland, Reeves’ influence is felt throughout contemporary Scottish art.
A significant group of Reeves’ collages will be on view. In the 1960s Reeves turned to collage as the medium most capable of explicating the abstraction that he saw in the city and landscape, appropriating disused objects in new patterns and shapes. The exhibition will show Reeves’ aesthetic journey as a collagist, embracing line, colour, form and composition.
RSA Lower Galleries, RSA Building
Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL