THE LINE AND THE SCRIBBLE

REBECCA SCOTT

Curated by Stella Whalley

15 June to 20 July 2024

Opening Preview: Friday 14 June, 6-8pm

Gallery is open Thursday – Saturday, 12-5pm
Free Entry

Sharing, 1994, oil on canvas, 224 x 300cm

Romancing in Cynical Times No. 2, 1997, oil on canvas, 153 x 188cm

RE-Wilding Cumbria, 2022, oil on canvas, 118 x 224cm

Machinations of a Rose, 1995, oil on canvas, 240 x 118cm

Romancing in Cynical Times No. 3, 1997, oil on canvas, 153 x 188cm

The Scribble  –  A Radical Disruption of Traditional Themes.

Rebecca Scott, an influential figure in contemporary art, has continuously challenged and redefined artistic norms through her innovative use of line and colour. After completing her BA in Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art and an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, London, Scott quickly gained recognition with her debut solo exhibition ‘Decoy’ at the Serpentine Gallery in 1991. This ground-breaking show, which sold out rapidly and caught the attention of notable collectors like Charles Saatchi, showcased her unique ability to juxtapose seemingly disparate subjects.

Scott’s early work, particularly the large-scale ‘engine and flower’ series, vividly contrasts the masculine imagery of 1960s American muscle car engines with delicate, meticulously rendered floral arrangements. This series employs rich, sensuous colours to create a visual dialogue between symbols of gender, emphasizing their equal presence and power. Central to this body of work is a thin, disruptive yellow line, which upon closer inspection, reveals an analytical depiction of male or female genitalia. This radical interruption is exemplified in pieces such as ‘Double Barrel,’ (1991), ‘Vesalius Peonies,’ (1991) and ‘Sharing’ (1994).

Throughout the 1990s, Scott further explored these themes, experimenting with techniques that obscure and fragment the composition. In works like ‘Machinations of a Rose’ (1995), she employs a wet-on-wet process to create gestural marks that fracture the visual plane in a kaleidoscopic manner. In ‘Spectacular Blooms’ (1991), the line transforms into an oval, subtly referencing female genitalia and asserting a powerful female presence within the mechanical world. This line, created by leaving a gap of exposed canvas under-painted with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, provokes the viewer to reconsider the depicted subjects.

In her more recent work, Scott revisits earlier paintings with a bolder, more defined ‘scribble.’ This line, painted simultaneously with the rest of the composition, disrupts the continuity of her landscapes, becoming thicker, stronger, and more assertive. As Phyllida Barlow notes, this scrawl, both familiar and unique, conveys a human urgency and marks the presence of the artist. The line, once an analytical tool, has evolved into a dominant element within Scott’s landscapes, painted directly onto the canvas with pure, unadulterated colour.

Scott’s work also engages with the history of British landscape painting, a genre traditionally associated with male artists and notions of wealth, power, and ownership. Her confident, large brushstrokes transform the vast Cumbrian landscapes she inhabits, integrating her disruptive line to challenge and reinterpret these associations. The line, now an integral part of her compositions, forces the surrounding paint to adapt, often breaking free from the canvas and behaving unpredictably.

In summary, Rebecca Scott’s paintings from 1991 to 2024 exemplify a dynamic evolution in her artistic practice. Through her radical use of line and colour, she disrupts traditional symbols and narratives, creating a powerful visual commentary on gender, identity, and the human experience.

– Stella Whalley 2024

“I tend to work in series, and retrospectively can see a biographical aspect to my oeuvre; the topics I chose to respond to, have often been meaningful in a personal sense, playing out in reaction to the situations I have found myself in. 

‘The language of choice is painting’. Scott uses genres of paintings as a metaphor, previously working through areas as diverse as nudes, flowers, Engines, Landscapes, still life, and figurative genres. Working from photographs, calendars, catalogues, and magazines, Scott is drawn to aspects of private manifestations and public representations of female desire.

From the beginning the gaze was male, women have been taught to respond to the male gaze. The subject was male, the story was from a male viewpoint, the woman was the other, a secondary object.

At the start of my investigation into a more female centric point of view, the line, the diagram or the scribble was used as a device of cutting through the surface of the paint, and has served as a metaphor ,as an interruption , an interference with the uninterrupted enjoyment of the painted scenario . I have used this interruption as a visual metaphor for the disruption of the female voice into the prevailing male discourse.”

– Rebecca Scott

About the artist

Rebecca Scott (b.1960 Cumbria,UK) lives and works between London and Cumbria, and is the Co-Founder of Cross Lane Projects. Scott gained a BA in Fine Art (Painting) from Chelsea School of Art and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, London. Scott has work in private and public collections nationally and internationally, and has exhibited in London, Cumbria, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. In 2019, she was a finalist for Cumbria Life’s Visual Artist of the Year award.

Solo & Two-Person Exhibitions: Small Boats & Family Matters, 2024, Cross Lane Projects, Kendal; Art in the Atrium, STILL LIFE PAINTINGS – Tina Balmer & Rebecca Scott, 2024, Low Wood, Windermere; Machinations, Paintings by Rebecca Scott, 2024, Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere; Rebecca Scott, SOLO Contemporary, British Art Fair, 2023, Saatchi Gallery, London
2023 Love & Fear, a collaboration of Mother and Son paintings, Cross Lane Projects, Vestry St, London; Worlds Apart, Pop Up Exhibition, 2021 Cross Lane Projects, Kendal; Dirty Pictures, 2019, Standpoint Gallery, London; Female Trouble – Paula Rego and Rebecca Scott, 2018, Cross Lane Projects, Kendal.

Selected group exhibitions: Salon for a Speculative Future: How to be in the Future, curated by Monika Oechsler, 2024, Vestry St – Cross Lane Projects, London; Cross Lane Projects at London Art Fair 2024, Islington, London; Landscape of the Gods at Cross Lane Projects, 2023. Kendal; The Gift, curated by Vanya Balogh, 2023, Vestry St – Cross Lane Projects, London; We Lived Happily during the War, 2023, Vestry St – Cross Lane Projects, London; High on Hope, 2023, Cross Lane Projects, Kendal; Modern Capricho, 2022, Vestry St – Cross Lane Projects, London; Cross Lane Projects at London Art Fair: Edit 2021; Salon for a Speculative Future, 2020, Chisenhale Art Place, London; Amsterdam, curated by Vanya Balogh & Mario Varas Sanchez, 2019, London; IX Bienal de Jafre / Jafre Biennale, Jafre, Spain, 2019; The Fight (Abstraction vs Figuration), 2019, Kunstgenerator, Geneva, Switzerland; Unpicturesque, 2019, Heaton-Cooper Archive Gallery, Grasmere, Cumbria; Auto-Destruct, 2019, Cross Lane Projects, Kendal, Cumbria; Protocol, curated by Vanya Balogh, 2018, Q-Park, Cavendish Square, London; Flugblätter, curated by Birgit Jensen, 2018, Maebashi, Japan.

All works copyright the artists.