With past and present merging through a mythological element in the work of both artists, the show (which runs until 23 June 2018) asks us to look at how we remember and respond to memories. Both painters create enigmatic landscapes charged with mystic tension and nostalgic undercurrents. As well as eliciting a sense of wonder, they also serve as a reminder of the fragility of the individual in relation to place and time.
McIntosh’s paintings of the Scottish Highlands have an air of gothic mystery, while Morrison paints scenes of romantic beauty where the precious imagery of different eras collides. Both artists rework the idealised scene with a sense of the mysterious, with the aim of igniting our imagination and prompting us to project our own personal experiences.
An award-winning Scottish painter, McIntosh's work features unexplained phenomena lighting up the quiet places of the wilderness. There are subtle mythological and historical references in McIntosh’s work that extend beyond his landscapes and into his signature caravans and abandoned buildings that appear inhabited by celestial bodies.
New works include The Electric Isle of Loch Carron (2018) and The Glowing Isle (2018) where copses of trees glow electrified in the Highlands, along with The Navigator (2018) where a defunct train carriage contains a giant celestial map and The Machine (2018) which depicts a Victorian bathing machine beneath a brooding sky, illuminated from within with a futuristic computer complex. The result is both magical and cryptic, the viewer bearing witness to an expanded world emerging from the midst of abandonment.
In Morrison’s paintings, classical landscapes inspired by artists such as Claude Lorrain are interwoven with images of old photographs to create the effect of a multi-layered nostalgic image. They look like collages, but the trees and shorelines are threaded back and forth from the classical era into the photographic image.
In Morrison’s painting To The Lighthouse (2017), an antique castle on a shoreline features passing travellers pointing to an oversized black and white holiday snap of a bather in the same place centuries later. In An Infinite Summer, a scene reminiscent of one of Goya’s carnivals by a river is intercut with an image of holidaymakers disembarking from a 1960s aeroplane.
The nostalgic impulse is strong in Morrison’s work, and the paintings provoke it on different levels, be it in the form of an idealised scene, a picture-postcard, or a personal photographic memory. In each instance is the conjuring of a beautiful idea that is as much embellished as it is remembered.
Just Putting It Out There runs until 23 June 2018 at James Freeman Gallery in Islington, London.