Gillian Carnegie – 8 Paintings. Cabinet Gallery

This exhibition was long awaited for me – I have found it difficult to find many reference to Gillian Carnegie’s work online and was really keen to see her work up close.

This blog is password protected as I obviously do not have permission to publish these images.  I have written this as notes for myself to assist with my own practice development.

This painting was number 7 in the series, entitled ‘J’.


This painting was number 5 in the series entitled ‘S’.

Amazing tonal quality of the palette in this piece – mostly greys and some ochre tints.  The shirt is painted in broader strokes – it reminds me of fabric painted by Velasquez – the underpainting is still visible and yet the efficiency of Carnegie’s mark making means that every stroke counts towards the readability of the cloth.  The wall is painted more thickly and is glossy and flat (question as to how this is achieved – is it with a medium such as liquin fine detail?). The face has thicker layers but still isn’t fussy. The areas of colour have been broken down into shapes and yet as a complete face it reads beautifully.  Incredibly inspiring to see.


This was painting 3 in the series entitled ‘White coat’

Alongside number 5, these two following paintings were undoubtedly my favourite.  I find Carnegie’s painting skills extraordinary.  They are precise, rich, intense and yet with such subtlety and delicacy.  Number 2 had blue/pink tones within palette.  There was more colour in this still life than in number 6. It was a really interesting colour choice – I haven’t before seen something so oddly pink but not obviously so.  The two yellow balls in lots of Carnegie’s work were still there adding tension and interest to the natural element of the paintings.  The grey leaves on the left were impasto. The thicker foliage in the centre had more density to the paint and to the colour than number 6.  It was really incredible to walk from one side of the gallery to the other comparing the two.  It was also interesting that Carnegie did not choose to place them together. There was really something quite playful in their positioning.  In number 6 the greens used have faded more to almost grey, the colour in the rose is less vivid, and the colour of the balls remains almost the same representing their artificiality well.  It is interesting to represent the withering of the plant matter with the draining of colour – these two pieces felt incredibly well thought through.

In these two still life pieces the painting of the objects was exquisitely rendered.  There are strong graphic lines and smooth broad areas of paintwork that almost have a sheen (particularly the flat colour of the background).  The flowers aren’t too fuss – there are flat areas of colour and really sculptural, defined areas.  Everything feels incredibly crisp.  The more opaque rendering of the bottle really makes it look like plastic and yet this set up and Carnegie’s style of painting goes beyond realism into something stylistic and beautifully so – it is almost graphic in its quality and incredible to witness.

This was number 2 in the series entitled ‘Aminadab’

This was number 6 in the series also entitled ‘Aminadab’.

This was painting 1 in the series, entitled ‘Debarcation’

I loved the complete juxtaposition of this piece – Carnegie has curated her own collection beautifully and all the pieces play off each other and heighten the qualities within each.  As a whole this exhibition was incredibly inspiring, uplifting and left me wanting more.  Carnegie’s hidden self seems all the more enticing having seen her work in person – the more I want to know about her the harder it seems to find anything relevant.  It was helpful as the gallery had a number of articles in a file on the desk which I was able to view. There seems to have been a long article with Carnegie in the Afterall journal in 2007 which I will attempt to acquire as the more I can learn about Carnegie’s approach/methodology etc the better.


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