Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, London 29 October – 01 December 2012
Abigail McLellan is known for her pared-down images set against richly-worked backgrounds of saturated colour. The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery is honouring the work and life of the highly acclaimed artist who found herself battling multiple sclerosis for ten years until she died at the age of 40. All three floors of the gallery will be dedicated to this retrospective, which will chart the career of a painter of indomitable spirit and unbounded creative energy.
Born in Middlesborough, and a graduate of the Glasgow School Of Art, McLellan drew inspiration from Scottish art but her style was very much her own. In her quest to create a comparable intensity of colour she evolved a highly personal technique, building layer upon layer of translucent, quick-drying acrylic paint in short, stippled strokes. Colourful still-lifes were complemented by her assured portraits which she exhibited regularly in the BP Portraits Awards at the National Portrait Gallery and her varied oeuvre also included screen prints and bronze cast ‘sea-fans’, a motif which was a regular feature in her painting and one which she returned to in her final works.
Just as her painting career was taking off internationally, with awards and a US scholarship to her name, McLellan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. However, this did not diminish her passion and her determination to pursue her craft. She continued to work as her illness took its toll, even devising imaginative constructions with climbing-gear to help her put paintbrush to canvas. Her work often took on a more abstract, but ironically no less forceful, bolder simplification of form towards the end of her life.
Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, 2a Conway Street, Fitzroy Square, London W1T 6BA. 0207 436 4899. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm.