The City Art Centre has recently opened it’s exhibition Jock McFadyen Goes to the Pictures, a two-floor exhibition of works by contemporary artist Jock McFadyen RA, whose impressive career has spanned over four decades. Timed to mark his 70th birthday, this major exhibition showcases new and existing paintings by McFadyen paired alongside artworks specifically selected by the artist from the City Art Centre’s rich and varied collection.

McFadyen was born in Paisley in 1950 and as a teenager went to Saturday morning classes at Glasgow School of Art. Aged 15, he moved to England and attended Chelsea School of Art in London from 1973 to 1977. His work from the 1980s is mostly associated with figurative painting, often featuring marginalised members of society in Chicago, New York, Berlin, Belfast, London and Edinburgh. However, since the 1990s his paintings have largely focused on man-made landscapes such as dilapidated industrial sites, abandoned buildings and deserted streets. Maeve Toal, Exhibition Curator at City Art Centre, spoke with The Fountain about the exhibition in more depth and highlighted her personal favourite.

TF: You have a new exhibition at the City Art Centre, what is the premise? 

Jock McFadyen Goes to the Pictures, is a two-floor exhibition of works by contemporary artist Jock McFadyen, whose impressive career has spanned over four decades. Timed to mark his 70th birthday, this major exhibition displays new and existing paintings by McFadyen paired alongside artworks from the City Art Centre’s collection of historic and contemporary Scottish art. Over the last year McFadyen has regularly visited the picture stores to select works for the show. His choices range from ‘old favourites’ by renowned Scottish artists such as Alan Davie and F.C.B. Cadell, to ones that have rarely been seen by the public.

Through a series of fascinating pairings, the exhibition encourages viewers to take a closer look. Works that might initially seem unrelated reveal unexpected connections and relationships. Some of these juxtapositions are witty; some are striking or surprising. By showcasing these artworks side by side, the exhibition aims to highlight common visual threads that connect all pictures, mixing up the traditional boundaries of period, style and artistic posture.

TF: What inspired this exhibition?

Jock contacted the City Art Centre in 2017 with the idea for this show. We found his exhibition proposal exciting as it approached our collection from a new angle. By displaying the works paired alongside each other it has provided us with an opportunity to showcase Jock’s paintings and the works from our collection in a fresh and exciting context.

TF: What is your plan for the remainder of the year?

We’ve got two other shows on display at the same time as Jock McFadyen Goes to the Pictures – Bright Shadows: Scottish Art in the 1920s (until 6 June 2021) and E.A. Hornel: From Camera to Canvas (7 November 2020 to 14 March 2021).

Bright Shadows explores the styles, ideas and events that shaped Scottish art during the 1920s. It was a period of contrasts: high spirits and sombre reflection, decadent excess and hard realities. Drawn from the City Art Centre’s collection, the exhibition features a range of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by artists including Stanley Cursiter, Dorothy Johnstone and Eric Robertson.

E.A. Hornel: From Camera to Canvas is a collaboration between the National Trust for Scotland and the City Art Centre. Featuring photographs and paintings from Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, this exhibition shows how photography was crucial to the development of Hornel’s artistic technique. It examines his use of young, female models in Japan, Sri Lanka and Scotland, and demonstrates that he only became the painter he did thanks to the photographs he took and collected.

Once Jock’s show is up and running I will be working on my next project – Marine: Ian Hamilton Finlay. Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) was an internationally renowned Scottish artist and also Britain’s most significant concrete poet of the 20th century. This major exhibition will focus on the maritime theme in Finlay’s work. It was a central element of his art, and one to which he returned throughout his life. Drawn from the artist’s estate and the City Art Centre’s collection, and including loans from the National Galleries of Scotland, this exhibition will showcase artworks from across several decades, ranging from stone, wood and neon sculptures to tapestry. The show will also feature prints, postcards and booklets from Finlay’s Wild Hawthorn Press and is a partnership with the Estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay.

TF: Which is your personal favourite in the exhibition, and why? 

My favourite pairing of works is Jock’s painting Calton Hill 3 with Lizzie Farey’s wall piece Aerie made out of willow. Jock makes a humorous visual connection between both works yet they are very different in style, medium and subject.

Jock McFadyen Goes to the Pictures is open from Saturday 14 November 2020 until 7 March 2021. Admission is free, pre-booking online essential, click here