An Edinburgh Festival exhibition by Joan Gillespie @ Grilli Gallery, 29 July to 16 August, 2017

Calling all art lovers. Exciting news for summer 2017 with the re-opening of the former Edinburgh Gallery.  After a few years away, Catherine Grilli is back “home” at her new, beautifully decorated Grilli Gallery, Dundas Street.

Grilli Gallery

For the first of two exhibitions for the Edinburgh Festival, there’s a marvellous solo showcase of paintings by Joan Gillespie. Her artistic training at college started in fine style, being fortunate to study under Alberto Morrocco and also with Sir Robin Philippson.  Developing her career, she became inspired by both the Expressionist tradition of The Scottish Colourists and the modern masters of Fauvism – Derain, Matisse and Cezanne.

Landscape, Andre Derain, 1907

The Fauves (“wild beasts”), a revolutionary group of French painters were influenced by Van Gogh and Gauguin, to experiment further with the use of intense colour to describe light and space without having to be true to the natural world.   “When I put a green, it it not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky.” Henri Matisse

The diversity of Gillespie’s work is quite extraordinary. Walk around this light-filled, L- shaped gallery to see an enchanting collection of Portraits, Figurative works, Landscapes and Still Life.

Window Seat, Joan Gillespie

Here are fresh-faced portraits defining the essence of feminine grace and beauty.  For example, “Window Seat”  captures the cool, calm pose of a young woman through the simplicity of  quick, broad brushstrokes with just a couple of lines to depict her expressive eyes and thoughtful mood.  Akin to a fashion designer drawing a quick sketch, this is enhanced to bring a sense of realism and depth of emotion.

As a homage to Derain and Matisse, this demonstrates her own individual, bold, vibrant approach to colour, both in palette choice and wild, carefree application; spot the splashes of blue and green on her face and dress, to echo the scenic seascape.   Despite the vibrancy of tone and texture, this is a most evocative, quiet composition.

These simple, subtle and serene figurative studies are a visual delight, such as Model in Navy Blue and Night Window and Model in Stripes, each lost in their own thoughts and solitude.

Model in a blue dress, Joan Gillespie

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity ..”  Henri Matisse

Seated young girl, Henri Matisse

Gillespie develops her own manner and interpretation of the female form with a sensual series of nudes to create delicately intimate scenes which are so expressive in just a brief moment in time – a girl drying herself after a bath, another taking off her blue shirt. Bold, thick lines give clarity to body shape, limbs and flowing hair with a vivid sense of movement and life.

Bather at the Window, Joan Gillespie

A sensual series of nudes create delicately intimate scenes which are so expressive, interpreting a brief moment in time – a girl drying herself after a bath, another taking off her blue shirt. Bold, thick lines give clarity to body shape, limbs and flowing hair with a vivid sense of movement and life.

Female Figure Undressing, Joan Gillespie

Here too around the gallery walls, breathe in the fragrant scent wafting around from the vases of gorgeous Sunflowers, slender Tulips, vivacious Irises and sweet Roses.  No wonder people love to collect still life paintings such as these joyous images, to bring warmth and the natural world into our homes all year round.

Tulips in a blue jug, Joan Gillespie

 “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” Henri Matisse

Joan Gillespie, like so many artists across the generations,  is drawn to explore the South of France with her paintbrushes and sketchbook, to experience the heat and light along the Cote d’Azur in reality and on canvas.

Mediterranean View, Joan Gillespie

Like a richly illustrated travel brochure, be enticed by her luscious landscapes which layer white sand beaches and the ultramarine blue of the Mediterranean Sea, under the dazzling warmth of the summer sun.

Do visit the Grilli Gallery soon to view this exuberant and alluring showcase which will certainly brighten your day.. or indeed your home, if you decide to purchase one of these paintings.  Joan Gillespie is a most refreshingly imaginative artist who has clearly followed her own private, painterly journey,  enriched by Fauvism philosophy:

 “We were intoxicated with colour, with words that speak of colour, and with the sun that makes colours live.” Andre Derain

The Grilli Gallery

Festival Solo Exhibition by Joan Gillespie

29 July to 16 August, 2017

20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ  tel. 0131 261 4624


Woman in a Chemise, Andre Derain

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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