Last Chance to see: The Two Roberts
Recently I have been trying to see setbacks as simply a more ‘scenic’ route on life’s journey and challenges as opportunities to grow, inspired by Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk on grit and resilience: http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit?language=en In this vein, when I failed to find the conference I was due to attend on Tuesday morning, after various adventures which included borrowing someone’s sat nav, asking people in local shops and little old grannie ladies, I decided to go for a walk in an area of the city I clearly didn’t know. I found a part of the Water of Leith walkway that I hadn’t been along before, off Roseburn Cliff, a cycle path above the city, and after a bit more wandering along the river, The Two Roberts exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibitions/the-two-roberts-robert-colquhoun-and-robert-macbryde
It is an interesting exhibition; I especially liked Robert Colquhoun’s drawings which are delicious, scratchy, grotesque and charming, all at the same time. There are some brilliant prints of his on display too. Colquhoun was the slightly more famous Robert, being more taciturn, prickly, and prolific. MacBryde is said to have been more gregarious and sanguine. He did all of the household chores, leaving Colquhoun to focus on painting. MacBryde liked to sing Scottish songs – he didn’t always know all the words but had a beautiful voice. He died while dancing in the road outside a pub when he was run over at 52, Colquhoun from working through the night for an exhibition opening at 47.
Robert Colquhoun was the more obviously influenced by Picasso, and his freer style is sensitive too, but I think something of Picasso’s influence can be seen in MacBryde’s witty still lifes. These are a treat; they show the reward of his lifelong obsession with form and colour, and have a stillness and intensity reminiscent of Vermeer. They are heavy with symbolism and redolent of something which is difficult to define. Probably the piece which stayed with me the most though, was Colquhoun’s ‘Figures in a Farmyard’, 1953, whose pig’s face looks like a dark mask of despair that seems to foresee his own consumption and had me thinking of Lord of the Flies. There is just over a week left; go!