Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies
During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.
Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.
The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice. Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.
The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.
Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.
This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog. Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.
Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.
Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.
Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal. He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?
So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.
In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition. Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.
There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.
The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne. As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.
If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA
25 July to 29 August, 2020
The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
tel. 0131 261 4264
Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.