Physalis
By Abigail McLellan

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Year
1997
Media
Oil Painting
Subject Matter
Still Life and Flowers
Reg. Number
P917
Size
76 x cm

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Abigail McLellan (1969 - 2009) was one of the brightest stars of the talented generation of painters that emerged from Glasgow School of Art in the early 1990s. She resolved her own personal vision: taut and economical in design, luminous in colour. She was born in North Yorkshire and moved with her family to Dumfries at the age of 12.

McLellan's extraordinarily sure sense of colour and design found ample scope in a series of paintings of coral sea-fans begun in the mid-1990s. The pictures were intricately constructed records of negative space: "For some reason," McLellan recalled, "I thought I've really got to make this as difficult as possible for myself by not painting the lines and just painting the in-between bits." One of them was acquired for the Fleming-Wyfold Collection of Scottish Art. The intense colour that came to be the other defining feature of her art derived in part from her admiration of the work of Craigie Aitchison. Her technique, however, using acrylic paints of varying translucency, built up meticulously in layers of stippled strokes, was entirely her own.

In 1995 she opened up a new front with her portraits, employing the distinctive stylisations and simplifications of her plant pictures, yet somehow managing to capture the likeness of the sitter with extraordinary effectiveness. Her picture of Louise McAtee was the first of several of her portraits to be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of the annual BP portrait awards. She was delighted to find the picture used for the exhibition's publicity posters on the London Underground. She won the Morrison Portrait Award from the Royal Scottish Academy in 1997.
Source: www.theguardian.com

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