|Anna King in her studio (image © George Craigie of www.designcrucial.com)|
EXHIBITION PROFILE: Anna King Solo Exhibition
24 Thistle Street Aberdeen
From today until April 30
ART school degree shows are odd affairs. The air jangles with anticipation and excitement, not to mention disappointment and exhaustion, as art students and viewers alike take stock of four years’ worth of graft at the coal face of art education.
“You never know what you are going to find,” says Maura Tighe, director of Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen. “There is always the hope – though not the expectation – that there will be one exceptional voice that stands out from the crowd. Duncan of Jordanstone in 2005 was just such a year.”
Like several other viewers of Anna King’s work at the Dundee-based art college’s annual degree show that year, Tighe was taken aback by the sheer individuality of this young artist’s work.
On the strength of King’s sell-out degree show, which depicted neglected and barren spaces using oil and pencil on paper or board, Tighe offered King an exhibition in her gallery in October 2005 alongside experienced artist Marion Leven. “Normally I would never exhibit such an experienced artist alongside a graduate, as the difference in experience would be glaringly,” she explains. “But Anna’s work was so good that it balanced Marion’s beautifully”.
The Aberdeen gallery was not the only one to notice King’s work, and King spent the summer working like a demon in a tiny room at her parents’ home in the Borders preparing for this and other exhibitions. For that that first exhibition, she produced the same amount of paintings as she did in her final year at art college.
The exhibition in Aberdeen sold out – the first show in the gallery’s history to do so. Now, six years on, she is back at Gallery Heinzel, with a major solo show.
The exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully written and presented catalogue, with text by Arlene Searle and photographs of a red-coated King in her studio, an old squash court on the Marchmont Estate in The Borders.
In the intervening period since King’s degree show, King, 26, has matured into one of Scotland’s leading contemporary landscape painters. Not only has she 40 exhibitions under her belt, in 2007, she won the inaugural Jolomo Lloyds TSB Landscape Award, which brought her to the attention of a wider, non-gallery-going public.
In the last year, she has appeared on the BBC documentary series, Coast, talking about the work of Joan Eardley, and in the recent Blackberry Torch television commercial. She also starred in a major selling exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow in aid of the Riverside Museum’s public appeal.
I first noticed her work at the Glasgow Art Fair in 2007, when I fell for a tiny painting of a row of trees to the back of The Watchie, the studio in Catterline in which Joan Eardley painted. Simple and plain, with an almost Shaker-like purity, the painting evoked such a strong sense of place and poetry, that I found myself signing up to an Own Art purchase on the spot.
King spent two blocks of time in 2006 and 2007 immersed in Eardley’s landscape in and around Catterline and although both artists’ styles are poles apart, the way in which they transfer their vision onto a flat surface has the same crystal clear clarity.
In this latest body of work for the Heinzel Gallery, the Anna King trademark of a hundred shades of gray permeates the Granite City of Aberdeen and beyond. Although the likes of Berlin and The Borders also figure, it is Aberdeen which features most prominently in the 30 or so paintings.
King comments: “Aberdeen is so grey. Everyone probably says that, but it really is totally grey. It’s also got quite interesting skylines, things sticking up into the sky, and also a good mix of residential and industrial. I don’t think it’s a particularly pretty city, say like the way Edinburgh is, but it’s got quite a grandeur about it and there’s plenty of interesting stuff, plus it’s small enough that you can walk around”.
Writer Arlene Searle adds: “The resulting collection of paintings for this exhibition reflects the ease with which Anna creates an image when it really does flow, the body of work hanging together like a thoughtfully orchestrated document of modern existence. High rises, factories, old castles, rundown greenhouses, old tin shacks; each building holds its own against the encroaching natural world, each painting exploring the delicate balance between the man-made and the natural, the permanent and the changing.”
|Old Ford Road II, oil& pencil on paper & board by Anna King|
I loved this painting - which was for sale at Heinzel for £500. Just checked on website and it's going, going, gone...