Exhibition Review

Holly York

Memories and Visions: Abstract art and its ability to transport the viewer


In this short review I highlight two featured works taken from the ‘Memories and Visions’ exhibition hosted by the Rafiki Gallery.

The Upright Gallery’s narrow and intimate exhibition space seems appropriate to house the resident works of Rowan Rosie and David Iain Brown. Fitting snug across two floors, ‘Memories and Visions’ exhibits the works of two Glasgow based artists who channel their inward thoughts and recollections through two colourful, yet very different, painterly approaches of abstract art.

Ground floor view, Landing in Soul Space, Rowan Rosie (Left) and Deep Dive, David Iain Brown (Right).

Curated so it becomes the first painting you are drawn to as you enter the Gallery, Rowan Rosie’s Landing in Soul Space, (2021) is a work that has a magnetic presence. Through a blend of warm peach highlights and compliments of earthy washes of deep green, the artist ‘hints of far away places taken from [her] travels and gestures of flowing energy’ – she terms it fittingly as ‘one for the soul seekers’. It is not difficult to see how Rowan’s memories of living in a more exotic climate than our temperate Scotland has clearly manifested itself into this painting. Arch-like shapes and intricate brush work go hand in hand in order to capture a sense of archaic spiritualism; whilst more instinctual brush strokes echo a distinct feeling of freedom that Rowan experienced during her travels. Although her work responds to the memories of far away places, perhaps it is her love for life and gratitude for soul fulfilling experiences which grounds her art into something each visitor can relate to and take joy from.

Rowan Rosie, Landing in Soul Space, 2021.

David Iain Brown created twelve monotoned works for this exhibition, each painting curated as if to stamp a web of bright colour across the tall, white Gallery walls. In contrast to Rowan’s work, David’s paintings confront the viewer with the abstraction of a singular rich and deep colour: pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and black. In his Hill top Sunset, (2021) a sense of process is the focus of this work. Thick oil stick marks and textural aspects are laid bare against glimpses of an exposed canvas, thus creating a sense of urgency and explosive painterly technique. For me, this energetic and explosive, yet simultaneously contained and layered work, captures the feeling of a fleeting moment or memory and the struggle it is for artists to reproduce this feeling physically onto canvas. Similarly to Rowan’s art, David’s work becomes transportative and encourages the viewer to recall a feeling or emotion that is in direct response to paint application and vibrant colour.

David Iain Brown, Hill top Sunset, 2021.

Hanging side by side in the Upright Gallery, both artist’s work create an equilibrium of colour through two personal explorations of ‘memory and vision’. This bright, airy and warm Gallery space benefits greatly from the residency of Rowan and David’s work – it was a pleasure to spend time viewing the exhibition in person.

Window view of The Upright Gallery, featuring The Rafiki Gallery Logo.

All images courtesy of @the_rafiki_gallery

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