Monday 16 December 2019

What lies beneath: William Scott's Jug to be coveted

Jug by William Scott [1913-1989]
Jug by William Scott [1913-1989]

Niall MacMonagle

No one runs next door anymore to borrow a cup of sugar or a sup of milk and the days when the back door was left unlocked are long gone. Now, the wealthier you are, the less likely it is that you'll know the people who live up and down the road, the more disconnected you become from what's everyday and ordinary.

Take the bus? No thank you.

Your PA will attend to travel arrangements and appointments. The Ryanair queue is not for you. The houses - yes, plural - where you live are guarded by high walls, gates and cctv. Kitchens are for staff.

Does President Obama prepare his own bowl of porridge? Does Mrs Brad Pitt scramble an egg? Does Bono make a mean lasagne?

Difficult to imagine some people in a kitchen but a William Scott painting of a pot or pan is something else again and much admired and coveted by many who've never even walloped or scrubbed one.

Called Jug this square work on canvas is immediately recognisable as a William Scott. Born in Scotland of an Irish father and Scottish mother, he studied in Belfast and served with the Royal Engineers in World War II. As an artist, he made the simplest, familiar, domestic objects - such as a frying pan, eggs, a plate, pears, a fish, green beans, a bowl - his own.

Though Scott met Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning and Rothko, their version of abstract expressionism was not for him: "I wanted a picture to be about something" he claimed but "I am an abstract artist in the sense that I abstract". This William Scott jug is plain, simple, beautiful. The image has both a solid presence and an abstract quality. A composition in black and grey and white, the work has a beautifully textured quality and soft, fluid lines. And for such an object associated with the clatter of a kitchen, it is very still, very quiet. Calming.

Vase, Vessel, Void is now on view at the Oliver Sears Gallery, 29 Molesworth St, Dublin 2 and runs until 2 October.

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