Jamie Primrose‘s latest exhibition is subtitled ‘a tranquil journey through Edinburgh‘ and the shimmering oils and dramatic inks on display trace the artist’s morning route from his home on the city’s Southside to his Stockbridge gallery.
Painted and drawn from photographs taken during the heavy snowfall in the city during last winter, the new works on display beautifully capture the light, shadow and texture of snow lying on familiar Edinburgh locations.
The striking ‘Ethereal Vista’ portrays a familiar view of the skyline from Holyrood Park, with the sweeping expanse of the foreground and heavy blue shadows leading the eye across the painting, letting details such as patterns made by snowy rooftops be taken in before ending at the dramatic white-dusted cliffs of Salisbury Craigs. The paint is layered and glazed to add texture and form to a scene which sits beautifully beneath a delicate and subtly-painted sky.
A series of paintings with the Meadows as their subject is a highlight of the exhibition. Mostly small-scale pieces, they explore the play of low winter sun as it shines weakly between tree branches, creating long and evocatively-realised shadows across the snow-covered paths. Some also feature the new Quartermile development – which Primrose admires – in the background, most notably in ‘Twilight approaches’, where the golden light of evening turns its glass-fronted exterior into a beacon.
By the time the journey reaches the New Town, Primrose’s indian ink works dominate; architectural studies and portrayals of street scenes where the lack of colour emphasises the form and structure of the subject matter. Still demonstrating his mastery of light and shadow, these pieces are as impressionistic as his oils, rather than draughtsmanlike depictions – and they therefore evoke moods and feelings as dark lines of New Town buildings entice your gaze across dramatic scenes of empty, snow-covered streets.
Large-scale oils depicting atmospheric and glowing skies above central Edinburgh then take centre stage, providing a warm-hued balance to the cool blues of the other works. Shafts of sun cutting through purple and magenta coloured clouds are masterfully caught by Primrose’s brush, and these pieces are amongst the exhibition’s most immediate and dramatic.
Then, we are in the streets of Stockbridge and around Inverleith Park, places Primrose loves and which hold special memories for him. He has painted them many times before, but never underneath the mantle of snow which the winter provided. This allows him to present some arresting compositions, such as the powerful ‘Winter light on Inverleith Place’, where the tree-lined avenue leads the eye towards the Gothic fantasy of Fettes College, the street criss-crossed with car-tracks in the snow and lengthy shadows from the trees.
Ethereal Vistas shows Primrose’s love for his home city and his unwavering ability to depict its beauty in all conditions. A snow-covered Edinburgh provides a perfect canvas for his mastery of light and colour to once again shine, and the exhibition as a whole easily explains why he has become one of Scotland’s most collected and best-selling contemporary artists.
He promises a series of coastal works and seascapes next, and the prospect of his sweepingly dramatic skies casting light on an ever-changing ocean is appealing to say the least.
Ethereal Vistas is at the Dundas St Gallery until 10th July.