Colin Robertson - Potted history
BORN GLASGOW 1936. LIVES IN BATTLEFIELD. GRADUATE OF DUNDEE COLLEGE OF ART AND TECHNOLOGY IN DESIGN & CRAFTS. POST-DIPLOMA YEAR WON A TRAVELLING SCHOLARSHIP. SUFFERING FROM SEVERE OVERDOSE OF ART IN ITALY, HE ESCAPED EASTWARDS AND RETURNED WITH DRAWINGS AND THREE- DIMENSIONAL WORKS IN RESPONSE TO THE INTERIOR SPACES OF THE MOSQUES IN ISTANBUL. EXHIBITED IN EDINBURGHIN LATE 60'S, OIL PAINTINGS OF DUNDEE BUS CONDUCTRESSES AND LIFE ABOARD A TRAWLER. EXHIBITED 'From Yoshitoshi to Winehouse'at iota 2014. COMPULSIVE HILL WALKER to date.
WORKED AT MANY TRADES: WIRELESS OPERATOR -NATIONAL SERVICE; COMMERCIAL ARTIST IN GLASGOW; FARMWORKER IN PERTHSHIRE; VOLUNTEER KIBBUTZNIK IN ISRAEL (BEFORE 67 WAR); TRAWLER DECKHAND ON BOATS SAILING OUT OF REKYAVIK AND GRIMSBY IN WINTER AND PAINTING IN A COTTAGE IN GLENISLA IN SUMMERS; CINEMA NIGHT-CLEANER IN LONDON; COUNCIL GARDENER IN WESTMINSTER AND TRADE UNION BRANCH SECRETARY IN A LOCAL AUTHORITY.
Looking on the surface
I have always drawn and painted but didn't exhibit again until 2015 with 'yoshitoshi to winehouse', a show of drawings at iota. Drawings in the current show share much of the same material: music, sex, and imagery derived from newspaper photos of female pop singers. Other drawings reflect a continuing fascination with the sea, memories of my time living and working in that very different environment. Some use a version of the 'split-representation of the image' common in many indigenous cultures and are generally two dimensional, influenced by the flat (axonometric) perspective used in japanese woodblock prints. I am always seeking directness and perhaps a bit of vulgarity.
A visitor to 'Yoshitoshi' left the comment that she would have welcomed more information about the works on show. A fair request but one that is perhaps difficult to satisfy. I can say where certain drawings started, but perhaps not why that particular image or idea acted as a trigger. A drawing can go in a straight line from start to finish, can turn upside down, multiply, divide, add on or lose bits and pieces, get redrawn on the reverse of the paper or join up with other drawings: whichever way it seems to work for me visually e.g. the separate sheets of 'Accroche au reve' and 'go-go-go' came together by accident, not by design. Printmakers, etchers and the like, speak of "getting a result" and I think that that is as good a way of putting it as any. I like the idea of the immediacy of a drawing or painting; that it can be seen all at once, taken in at a glance, without history or add-ons. The best explanation for a picture is there in the frame on the wall.
Some of the starting points:
'Mouths and seas' – Marie Darrieussecq begins her novel ' Mal de mer' describing a child climbing a sand dune at dusk and finding herself, for the first time, with this noise, this smell, this immense thing before her that was the sea, stretching to left and right, a vast black mouth composed of thousands of smaller mouths continually opening and closing.
'Buckle my navel' and related works –the caption 'times out' printed across her midriff on a photo of Amy Winehouse, the 's' rising above the buckle of her belt.
'Looking at the aeroplane' – from a photo of four women in profile evoking a memory of a drawing made, a very long time ago, on an art students' bus trip to Edinburgh with all heads turned to watch the aeroplanes. 'As if headless' – a male singer encircled by seemingly adoring female dancers and 'go-go-go' – from a photo of a go-go dancer.
'Accroche au reve' -The coiled up text in a circle is a translation into French from Nietzsche in which he suggests that nature, mercifully, hides from us and from our consciousness the internal workings of our bodies and, that in pride and ignorance, we are as if carried along clinging to a dream, while riding on the back of a tiger. It's one way of looking at things! - but it provided me with the title for this show.