From My Library
John Bellany - June 28, 2021
John Bellany, National Galleries of Scotland, 2012
John Bellany’s (1942 – 2013) work melds the recognizable with a vision that is unique, sometimes uncomfortable (as with his many self portraits) but also very engaging, with a play of the absurd and the immediate. Bellany’s figures and scenes are marked by a “vigorous—at times rather tormented—Expressionist style. He was born and brought up in a fishing village near Edinburgh, and the imagery of his work is often derived from the sea, although it is transformed into a kind of personal mythology.” John Bellany (National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2012) was published to coincide with Bellany’s 70th birthday and accompanied the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of his work since the National Galleries of Scotland organised the retrospective in 1986.
This book contains over 80 illustrations of Bellant’s finest works including paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints from all the key periods of the artist’s career. It’s not hyperbole to state that Bellany changed the course of painting in Scotland. From the book: “His intensely felt paintings of fisherfolk and their precarious life at sea were a direct challenge to the much diluted Scottish colourist tradition and its landscapes and still lifes. The sheer size and raw emotion of Bellany’s canvases, their depictions of a way of life that the artist knew from growing up in a Port Seton fishing family – and their elevation of that life onto a symbolic level – were at odds with the decorative, drawing-room pictures of much contemporary Scottish painting in the 1960s.”
You can see more from this lovely publication here, where you can also order a copy. I encourage you to also see more of his imaginary – yet very honest – painted narratives of his life and community here, and here. ~ Bart Gazzola