the grey gallery











The Grey Gallery Presents

Jock McFadyen Studio Show

Horse lamenting the invention of the motor car....

Large and small pictures from the 1980s to the present day.

5th March-26th April 2009 - Open Thursday to Sunday 11am - 6pm or by appointment

The Grey Gallery
Unit 4
Helmsley Place
London Fields
E8 3SB

The nomadic Grey Gallery takes up residence at Jock McFadyen's London Fields studio for the next two exhibitions.

This exhibition shows a selection of early and late works from the last two decades. McFadyen is an artist who is sometimes associated with figurative painting of the 1980s. This has often irked the artist who, by the advent of that decade, had struggled to jettison the schematic figuration with which he made his name in the late 1970s.

It was during his residency at the National Gallery in 1981 that the artist resolved to make the observed world  his subject rather than the witty conjectures with which he had emerged from Chelsea School of Art in 1977. The first pictures to emerge in the early eighties were populated by the waifs and  strays of pre Canary Wharf London. McFadyen, like many others, was part of that diaspora of artists which had taken to the East End since the late sixties and he has always claimed that the figures in his work of that period were not inventions but sightings of individuals and events of the time. Horse lamenting the invention of the motor car  is typical of McFadyen’s work in the early eighties and retains some residue of caricature and wit which characterised his previous work . Throughout the decade, however, this element fell away to reveal a darker and more threatening portrait of the landscape of eighties London.

In 1991 McFadyen was commissioned by the Artistic Records Committee of The Imperial War Museum to record events surrounding the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Later the same year he was commissioned to design the set and costumes for Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s last ballet The Judas Tree  at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was at this point that the figure fell away from McFadyen's work. Full blown urban landscape, sometimes on a monumental scale, emerged and continues to preoccupy the artist to this day.

Jock McFadyen claims Sickert as well as Whistler and LS Lowry among painterly influences from the past, while German and American realist film from the 1970s as well as the contemporary novel  are  influences which are more significant to the artist than any from contemporary painting. During the 1990s McFadyen found a fellow traveller in the writer Iain Sinclair whose Downriver  and Lights out for the territory  mirrored the artist’s preoccupation with the eastern plains of the city and its estuary (Dagenham, Derrick, Showcase Cinemas, A13 Looking West). McFadyen had previously worked with the novelists Howard Jacobson and Will Self on prints and booklets and in 2001 Sinclair wrote Walking up walls  to accompany Jock McFadyen’s solo exhibition at Agnews.

New work shown here includes Tate Moss  and Olympia, large vistas of the wastelands of the Olympic zone, penetrated by water with Sinclair while researching his new novel Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire. Recent years have seen the figure return to McFadyen's painting and a group of sixty small erotic paintings from 2008 are included in the display. These works were particularly inspired by the exquisite display of Sickert’s Camden Town pictures at Somerset House winter 2007/2008. The artist was conscious that Sickert’s women may have shocked the Edwardians but, frank description notwithstanding, they would struggle against the sea of sexual imagery in today’s media landscape.

Jock McFadyen was born in Paisley in 1950. He lives and works in London and Edinburgh. He describes himself as a realist and has had over 40 solo exhibitions, including National Gallery 1982 (Residency show), Camden Arts Centre 1988, Imperial War Museum 1991, Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival)  1998, Pier Arts Centre (St Magnus Festival) Orkney 1999, Agnews London 2001, Rude Wercs London 2005, The Grey Gallery Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival 2007), The Grey Gallery London 2007.
Many mixed and touring exhiitions over the years include  the John Moores, Hayward Annual, The British Art Show, British Council touring etc. 
His work is in  over 30 public collections, including  the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery, the V & A and the British Museum, and is in many private and corporate collections in Britain, Europe and America.
Jock McFadyen - A book about a painter  by David Cohen, was published in 2001 by Lund Humphries.

The Grey Gallery Presents

Jock McFadyen and Iain Sinclair in conversation

Thursday 2nd April 6.30pm

The Grey Gallery
Unit 4, Helmsley Place
London Fields
London E8 3SB

Iain Sinclair will read from his new book Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire  and talk with Jock McFadyen about their shared subject, the hidden territories of London’s eastern landscape, at McFadyen’s London Fields studio.

Free, but booking advised  00 44 (0)7910 359 087


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For further information please contact:

Susie Honeyman 00 44 (0)7910 359 087 or email