The dark tones, simplified shapes and rough textured surface in Fish are indicative of the qualities of cave paintings; six fish-like forms have been carved with extreme energy into the thick browns and purples of the oil paint. The deep grooves in the paint create a clay-like aesthetic giving the piece a highly tactile quality. A horizontal fish sits as a heading at the top of the canvas and is surrounded by an aura of white paint flecked in yellows, reds, oranges and pinks.
The five vertical fish below are warped and abstracted; dark creatures, hidden at the bottom of Jock’s grubby ocean. Nevertheless, the extreme abstraction of these bizarrely vertical fish causes the viewer to question whether the title of the work refers to the singular fish above or plural fish; perhaps these shapes beneath are symbols, tools or structures rising from the gloomy seabed. This intriguing wordplay adds to the sense of mystery surrounding the work and draws attention back to the artists’ interest in marine life and death.
Jock notoriously prepares his own gesso boards and canvases before drawing, painting, abrading and scraping the surfaces. Fish is a clear example of this technique. Jock’s process is an impressive visual experience for the viewer; the canvas is thick with oil paint and this is continued on to the frame which is painted in a way that makes it very much part of the work.
Although Jock is principally inspired by the Scottish Colourist artists, his paintings take on a variety of styles and he describes himself as a 'Modernist' at heart. He is known to draw inspiration from British artists: Nicolson, Scott, Wallis and European artists: Matisse, Braque, Morandi.
In Fish, the viewer can perhaps see the influence of Brague’s simple still life’s of fish and even his cubist works such as ‘Bottle and Fishes’ (1910) which both abstracts the shapes of the fish and employs the same muddied colours of Jock’s work. His recurring fascination with marine life (and death) is plain to see in the subject matter here.
Jock MacInnes graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1966 and went on to teach at the school for over 30 years. Throughout his teaching career he continued with his own painting; regularly exhibiting and winning art awards including The Paisley Art Institute Drawing Competition, The Royal Glasgow Institute Cargill Award and the Colquhoun Memorial Painting Competition. He was elected as a member of the RGI in 1988 and joined the Council of the RGI in 1995. In 1999 he ceased teaching at Glasgow School of Art and began to focus on his own paintings full time.
Jock’s paintings are often characterized by their simplicity and overall sense of quietness; strong atmospheres and moods stemming from his use of warm colours and tactile surfaces. Although his paintings are influenced by the Scottish Colourist artists, he describes himself as a 'Modernist' at heart. He prepares his own gesso boards and canvases and then draws, paints, abrades and scrapes onto the canvas to create a strong variety of textures.
Whilst his works often reflect a recurring fascination with marine life, he also produces stunning landscape and still life paintings. Collectors of Jock’s paintings include Art in Healthcare, Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute, Paisley Art Institute, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Glasgow University and Strathclyde University.
With thanks to The Portland Gallery, BBC Your Paintings, The Open Eye Gallery and Scottish Hart Paintings for information about this artist.