Contemporary Scottish Painting

Contemporary Painting in Scotland,!992
Published by Craftsman House, ISBN 976 8097 25 6
Bill Hare


Jim Pattison was born in Dundee in 1955. Pattison studied Architecture at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, for one year before transferring in 1974, to the Drawing and Painting Department where he graduated with a post–diploma in 1979. From 1979-80 he took his Art Teaching qualification at Moray House College of Education, Edinburgh. He is the recipient of many awards, most notably the Scottish Arts Council Bursary, Amsterdam, 1988/89. He currently lives and works in Glasgow.

The appeal of highly charged and brightly coloured painting has been an important element of modern Scottish painting since the time of the Colourists, who worked in the first few decades of this century. They and their followers have taken one thread of modern art, that of the liberating and positive associations of pure colour, and developed it with a reference to the real world – concentrating especially on portraits, landscapes and still-life subjects. However, it perhaps the revolution in in American painting after the Second World War which has been of even greater importance to this artist.

Whilst American painting has had its adherents in Scotland, the commitment to pure abstraction, free from any direct reference to the outside world, is less in evidence here, though it is a central concern of Pattison. Over the last ten years the artist has created an original synthesis of various methods of abstract painting and printmaking. On a single canvas, Pattison unites coolly airbrushed passages of paint with more expressive, active gestures. The contrasting clash of control and abandon are collaged together, evoking another innovation of modern art – that of Synthetic Cubism.

As no explicit subject is intended by the artist, each painting is created using formal laws of abstraction to create a vibrant, orchestrated picture surface. To raise the visual excitement to an overwhelming pitch, Pattison uses particularly strong colours and applies in the paint in different ways, sometimes watered down and translucent, at other times thickly and aggressively.

The wide varieties of textures Pattison employs are occasionally culled from magazines, which gives a contemporary edge to what are otherwise non-specific subjects. In this he shows the specific relevance of abstract painting in highlighting the ways we perceive the outside world today, so varied in appearance and form.

Pattison has held one–person exhibitions throughout Britain and has been represented in group exhibitions across Europe. He is represented in public and private collections across the United Kingdom, including the Scottish arts Council.