Monday, July 08, 2013

Ian Scott 1945-2013

One engrossing development over the seventies was watching Ian Scott and Richard Killeen take on abstraction one-uppping each other exhibition by exhibition. There they were two well-known figurative painters going hard at the abstract as though it had just been discovered. It was always worth the visit to Peter McLeavey’s gallery to see what they had come up with. Then when they both turned up an exhibition of spray-canned abstracts - the paint often dribbling down to the bottom of the canvas - well what could you say? Scott went on to develop his lattice series and Killeen his cut outs but it was always a serious enterprise and Ian Scott was above all a very serious painter. 

Back then any talk of painting you had with Ian would always circle back to Gordon Walters. Scott (and Killeen too) was a huge admirer and many of his techniques, like the beautiful preparatory collages, the immaculate surfaces and even the regular studio hours were all straight out of the Walters’s handbook. But of course Scott was also very much his own man. Often out of step with the trends of the day he was always a courageous - if not sometimes a quixotic - figure. With many artists now feeding the market by looking over their shoulders it’s hard not to feel a twinge of nostalgic for Ian’s take-it-or-leave-it stance. It’s a sad business that he wasn’t given more time to take it.