Joseph Urie – New Monotypes and Early Oils

We have the perfect exhibition coming up for Halloween… Joseph Urie will be here to exhibit his new monotypes as well as a number of dramatic, large (6ft square) early oils on canvas. The two styles complement each other perfectly and demonstrate a continuity of style and a mastery of the different techniques. Joe has been exploring the medium of Monotype print making over the past two years and has found it to be a perfect match to his expressive style of painting. Both in terms of subject matter – monochrome suits his dark exploration of the human condition, as well as his painterly application.

Monotypes, by definition are unique original artworks. In these cases Joe has applied both an additive process – creating the image directly onto the surface in much the same way as he would in a painting albeit the printed image will be a mirror image and also a subtractive process where the plate is covered in ink and an image is created by taking the ink off the plate. Both processes offer opportunities to explore textures and tone using different tools, pressure and techniques. In comparison to other forms of printmaking it can offer a very immediate and expressive final image but the ability to perfect, for example, a graduated tone, takes months of practice.

Joe, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee and the Royal Academies in London is an expressive, figurative painter and since the 60s has endeavoured to portray mans struggles to seek contentment in the face of adversities such as war, betrayal, jealousy and rejection. To portray this on the canvas Joe has developed his own symbolism. The use of animals such as cats (mysterious creatures of the night), dogs (companions, protectors), horses (Joe was once bitten by one!) and birds bearing gifts, appear often. Common too are masks to suggest duplicity and also shrouded figures which hark back to childhood memories of a mysterious old lady who would sing Scottish laments in the close below his home in Glasgow, suggest mystery, fear and protection. Although the work appears sometimes dark and troubled the inspiration for the symbolism stems from similar memories and experiences we have all encountered.

In my opinion one of the stand out images from his recent Monotypes is that of the "Dead Scarecrow" which portrays a figure grotesquely slumped, lifeless from a cross in a desolate landscape. It perfectly expresses Joes revulsion to the recent murders and destruction of artistic treasures by the ISIS movement in Syria – "men of straw". In my opinion a very fine example of expressive figurative art which wouldnt look out of place next to the work of Kollowitz, Dix and other German Expressionist artists. Visceral stuff!

I have also been fortunate to persuade Joe to show some of his larger early work. We have three (if I can get them hung) 6ft square(ish) canvasses featuring some of his well known subjects shown at the Vigorous Imagination exhibition – a landmark exhibition at the SNGMA in 1987 which launched the careers of some the most well known artists in Scotland today; Peter Howson, Ken Currie, Stephen Conroy, Steven Campbell and Adrian Wiszniewski. Several pieces havent been shown before so it is a real treat to have them here in North Berwick.

W Gordon Smith, the much loved art critic for the Scotsman once wrote of Joe, "Urie is maybe the most poetic of our contemporary painters, a unique stylist whose images are a personal synthesis of classical stricture and primitive symbolic mythology." Come and see why.

<strong>Joe will be here for the Preview on Friday 30th October from 6-8pm to which you are invited to join us. The show runs until November the 29th so if you cant make it to the Preview do try and drop in at some point. Always if you cant make the weekend feel free to visit midweek but maybe contact us first just to ensure we are not out.</strong>