When asked to write these things I always start to panic. I suppose that many artists have difficulty when expressing their modi opporandi. The question is often, too simply, answered with an enigmatic shrug of the shoulders. Is it the case that once you have defined yourself you will then be working within the constraints of this definition and find it difficult to change?
My work begins with the observation of light and shadow on the model. An admiration of figurative art from the 14th and 15th centuries leads me to favour dramatic chiaroscuro lighting and the inclusion of areas of drapery. This choice of lighting lends itself particularly well to dark and moody paintings, and I further enhance this atmosphere by closely cropping the figures within the picture plane. This, I feel, creates an intimacy and intense focus on the figure. The areas surrounding the figure are often flat and simply abstracted. This is both a compositional device and an attempt to avoid complex narrative and maintain a sense of timelessness.
Although I am not keen to make “storytelling”, narrative paintings, I do sometimes select poses or compositions that suggest a certain myth or notion. I have previously made allusions to the Icarus myth and the mythological Gemini twins but have refrained from any obvious allegory. I prefer to present an ambiguity which can then be interpreted more personally by the viewer.
As well as an interest in the making of images, I am intensely driven by the technical aspects of painting and drawing. Once a pose has been chosen, I will investigate the anatomical challenges presented within the figure. Many sketches of muscle groups will be made using photographic reference and anatomy books. Once I have a good working knowledge of the construction of the chosen figure I will, with lighting in mind, decide on a painting technique that will represent the model most favourably. The majority of my work uses a combination of techniques appropriated from artists that I admire. These include Vermeer and Van Eyck’s monochromatic underpainting and glazing, Caravaggio’s complex layering and the venetian technique further developed by Titian.
The various combinations of these techniques produce paintings that are more than just flat images. They are built rather than simply painted.
I hope to create work that challenges the viewers existing conception of the paintings of the masters, and that of contemporary figurative artists.
Established to bring the very best of the contemporary art scene to the public view, and to offer the finest service to buyer and artist alike, UNIONgallery is a gallery with a...
These are just a few of our forthcoming exhibitions. Click on the titles to find out more, or visit the Exhibitions page to see what else is coming soon.
Henry Jabbour at the UNIONgallery
12 March 2017
Like many others locally, we’ve missed the Union Gallery since its removal from Broughton Street to larger premises on Drumsheugh Place.
A visit to the West End on Friday showed that Union’s owner Alison Auldjo has lost none of her knack for finding and nurturing great new talent, most recently that of Henry Jabbour.
Jabbour came late to painting, and was already a successful scientist with the Medical Research Council by the time he joined Leith School of Art in 2005. Consumed by this new calling, he became a full-time artist two years later.
This Life to Me is his first solo exhibition, and it’s a phenomenally successful debut.
By Eleanor Duffy
Photo - Colin Hattersley
An Edinburgh scientist is to open his first solo art exhibition after leaving behind his career to follow his dream.
Henry Jabbour worked for nearly 20 years in the Medical School at Edinburgh University but quit in 2010 to pursue his love of art full-time.
Despite training to be a biologist, Henry found his true calling in painting and has since studied at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh and the New York Academy of Art.
His prints and portraiture work have won praise in the art world and he is now preparing for the launch of his first solo exhibition this weekend.
A solo exhibition by Jenny Matthews: UNIONgallery – a bouquet of fragrant flowers
6 September 2016
UNIONgallery is owned and managed by contemporary artist Alison Auldjo. Originally opening on Broughton Street in 2009, the stylish new premises at the West End has the ideal space and design over two floors to show solo exhibitions, mixed collections, crafts and sculpture. The emphasis is on showing work from established painters who do not exhibit in Scotland, to exciting new Scottish and international talent.
Jenny Matthews studied at Edinburgh College of Art under Elizabeth Blackadder DBE, John Houston and Ann Oran, graduating in 1986. Since then, she has earned a fine reputation as an accomplished watercolourist, exhibiting in the UK and abroad.
Stepping into the Uniongallery to see her new solo exhibition, ‘Sapphire Skies,’ is like taking a stroll across country meadows and along the seashore, so tangible that you can almost smell the fragrant flowers. The soft shades of pinks, mauve, coral red and corn yellow, capture their natural beauty and texture, from beautifully arranged vases and bouquets to land and seacapes and decorative still life compositions.
Here are the first buds of Spring and Summer gardens, a flourish of sweet peas, irises and parrot tulips, as well as pretty thrift and lichen sprouting along the rocky shore at St. Abbs. The artistry is exquisite, meticulous botanical drawings, detailing each petal, stamen, puffs of pollen and green leaf, enhanced through the subtle tone and translucent quality of watercolour.
16 August 2016 Adam Barclay
UNIONGallery, 4 Drumsheugh Pl, Edinburgh
Exhibition continues until September 12
Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am – 5.30pm
The UNION Gallery had their first solo exhibition launch at their new premises on Drumsheugh Place this week, and what a strong first impression it was! The new space, previously a low ceilinged charity shop, is unrecognisable as a classic Edinburgh gallery, resplendent with cornicing and high ceilings! It makes for a fantastic space to show off the works of award-winning water-colourist Jenny Mathews in her third solo exhibition.
The pieces on display are varied in style and dimension but all share a distinctly high quality and impressive artistic feel. With several pieces having been reserved even as they were being hung, it was obvious that Jenny’s work is in high demand. Large works to tie whole rooms together were displayed, alongside horizontal sets, unusual for the artist, and smaller high-detail pieces. Jenny studied botanical illustration under Dame Elizabeth Blackadder and the inspiration is clear in her work, supremely detailed botanical images but with a clear style of her own.
17 July 2016
When Alison Auldjo began converting a former charity shop into the second incarnation of the Union Gallery, removing a lowered ceiling and turning a pokey back storage room into a well-lit stairwell, she knew exactly the picture she wanted in the space. It was Phil Braham’s Ophelia Bathing, a painting she had seen in the Scottish Gallery a few years ago, when it was ‘best in show’ but went unsold. “I went to see him to tell him about the new place, ‘Phil, come and see the space, you will see exactly what I mean about your painting’,” she said. The work uses a backdrop from the Water of Leith; Ophelia is bathing, not drowning, It is unobtrusively thought-provoking: the bather’s shoulders above smooth water, calmly swimming a ladylike breast-stroke, in a moment of reflection, before Hamlet stirs things up.
Auldjo put a second considerable picture by Braham in the window of her gallery for its reopening a few weeks back. The work, 21st Century Sublime, shows rolling hills around a Scottish valley cloaked in misty skies, the kind of view you’d find coming down from a Munro, but Graham’s last touch was to put a fighter jet flicking across it. “We have all seen scenes like that in the Highlands. It’s eery, it’s quite bleak, but it’s beautiful,” said Auldjo. My first ill-thought guess is Glencoe; but it’s more the gentler landscape of Aviemore, where two low-flying planes roared past on a recent walk, their sound gathering behind them.
When Auldjo closed the Union Gallery in Broughton Street, after seven years on a wonderfully prominent corner of one of Edinburgh’s couthiest streets, I had wondered if she would really be back. There are too many stories of galleries that seem to wilt under pressure: in Edinburgh the old Doggerfisher, the recently downsized Ingleby Gallery, in London the impact of skyrocketing real estate. I’ve heard old dealers lately saying traditional Scottish art markets are dead, and artists facing hard times, though that is not exactly new.
16th August 2017
Kevin Low is an artist living and working in Glasgow, his new exhibition Women & Men is currently on show at the Union Gallery in Edinburgh.
What drives your passion – when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
It’s an obsession. It’s something I have to do, or I get sick. I hesitate to say that because I think that’s how most artists feel. I don’t have a choice. That makes it sound like it’s a chore, like being bullied by the subconscious, but nah, it’s a bloody thrill, every time. There is nothing better in the world than creating stuff.
As a kid, I grew up on a farm. I expected to become a cattleman, I really did. It was a very small world. I think it was pop music that gave me that first buzz in my gut, that invitation to step away from the ‘real world’. Mr David Bowie, I owe you a lot.
You trained initially as a biologist and worked as a scientist, has this part of your past influenced your current art practice of painting people?
I am sure it has but sometimes it is very difficult to pinpoint how.
I firmly believe that the way I look at, and my empathy towards, the human figure is hugely influenced and informed by my past experiences (being brought up in Lebanon at the time of the civil war) and my subsequent education.
Photo - Colin Hattersley
Dennis the Dog and his new best friend, artist Henry Jabbour, would like you to have a look at the Scots Magazine's website. There's a tremendous photo of Dennis there, and something about a great new exhibition. But the photo of Dennis is just the bestest thing ever!
While we admit we're a little biased, we have to agree with the Scots magazine (and Dennis) - this is a great exhibition of exquisite works by Henry Jabbour, and you really shouldn't miss it!
Read the full article at the Scots Magazine website
The exhibition will open on September 4th at the Union Gallery in Edinburgh. With a selection of new paintings and wrought iron sculpture, James invites viewers to look and, as the show’s title suggests, see, through the eyes of the characters in his created world. Using his distinctive and very direct style, the artist reflects on his own experience of life in the Highlands and Islands.