Beaches are places of leisure and relaxation, of never-ending sunshine and long days basking in the warmth of the sun. For many people, they are a symbol of luxury and pleasure, an end-goal to strive for after a year of effort and hard-work. Renowned Scottish artist Jack Knox understands this and depicts it in this oil on canvas.
"Beach Tent" is a disarmingly simple image. Devoid of any human figures or signs of life, the image depicts merely a line drawing of a chair and the eponymous tent structure, its fabric flaps swaying slightly in the wind; a wind which perhaps dispersed the crowds, allowing for such an uncluttered moment of deep serenity. The chair and tent seem recently abandoned; they are suggestive of activity and life, but in the moment depicted currently void of it. Instead they lie in wait, or perhaps in invitation to the viewer. Rather than being lonely, the image suggests tranquility, with the deep blue sea rolling gently in the background and the sand an inviting postcard-yellow.
Detail is absent, leaving only block colours and something akin to a symbolic representation of a beach. The image is idealised and stripped to its essence - and yet in its simplicity there is tangible technique. Patterns are contrasted, with the bare, smooth sand in the foreground set against grey streaks perhaps representing shingle or tidal patterns on wet sand. On the fabric of the tent small dabs of oil paint create a spotted surface. These small details provide the painting with points of interest without overwhelming the image or unbalancing the sense of calm pervading the painting. This is not a literal or realist depiction of a beach; it is an idealised symbol, a totem of holiday culture and allure.
Jack Knox was born in Kirkintilloch in 1936 and studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art and the Andre Lhote Atelier in Paris. He was Lecturer in Drawing and Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee from 1965 to 1981 and Head of the Painting Studios at Glasgow School of Art from 1981 to 1992. He has since retired and now concentrates solely on his painting. His work is exhibited in the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and has been displayed in numerous galleries across the UK, including the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Civic Arts Centre in Aberdeen. He currently lives in Broughty Ferry, a suburb of Dundee.
With thanks to the National Galleries Scotland for artist information
With thanks to Artlink Central for artist information