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Number of painters: 177
Last update: Saturday Sept 17, 2022

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Robert McKellar


Robert McKellar (1945-2009).

Born in July, 1945 in Sevenoaks, Kent (UK), Mckellar emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 19.

Returning to the UK due to the death of his father, he began his art studies at Medmay College of Design, aged 24. From there he was accepted at Camberwell School of Art as an exceptionally talented student.

Robert McKellar

"A true artist who follows the spirit of the times so sensitively as to necessitate an apparent reversal - still life -abstract - in his approach to painting, while remaining in essence entirely consistent. His recent work is fresh and exciting, animated by a modern sensibility."

Clifford Bayly V. P., R.W.S., N.D.D.

"His thoughtful approach in the business of picture-making has led him to a special interest in still life, where he finds satisfaction in the pictorial possibilities of objects placed in interesting juxtaposition giving rise to exciting design and pattern. The play of light on the subjects is also an important ingredient in the composition. His pictures have an originality and distinction which is not often to be found today."

Gerald Norden A.R.S.A.

"Robert McKellar is a sophisticated artist well-versed in traditional painting methods."

John Ward C.B.E., R.A. Ward

Robert McKellar's Still Lifes As with so many artists, his art exits as part of his character. To paint as well as Robert McKellar you have to know a great deal about the skill of painting: you have to have made magical effects on canvas until making them is not the issue - finding, understanding, exploring and finally choosing them becomes the issue and the strength in the art.

The magic that lifts his painting out of the ordinary is his own. Only in his painting can we see the immensely sensitive, contemplative and, for his art, ambitious artist.

It isn't difficult to look at his rendering of silver and wonder how on earth he manages to paint real silver without using silver paint. Look closer, reflected in the silver you may find an image of the artist, there is more to find than abstract refelctions and a manipulation of paint.

"With whatever he paints you can experience the object. Whether he paints an old glass rummer, transparent with gleaming highlights, or porcelain with milk-soft shadows or fruit you can smell, you know the textures of its surface, its form and colours in highlight and in shade.

In painting still life the intent is to please the eye, to decorate even, but paintings seek to be much more than cloured wallpaper. Still lifes reflect a long contemplation by the artist whose choice of props is utterly personal. They are the elements with which he constructs the composition.

The juxtaposition of objects is of immense importance, allowing them to show depth, a fluidity of form, a narrative even, by careful placing of each part. What can sometimes appear to be a casual assembly is carefully considered.

A part of what Robert McKellar shows us is his love of the act of painting- hard and soft edges, under-painting and glazes, passages of pure colour, soft shadows or dark mysterious ones. He manipulates the focus regardless of the laws of optics, for the purpose is to render illusions of three dimensions and enhance the composition.

It is no snapshot subject to real science, but the alchemy of an artist who can bend reality to give a greater reality. He touches his picture with light and paints into the shadows, giving life to the tones that bring an object forward. He washes weak light into thee background surface, lifting it out of dull greyness, against which we can see what the artist has chosen we shall see.

For many years Robert has also painted abstract canvases. These display his knowledge of painting and his ability to be free with both expression and paint. The abstract paintings have expanded his tchnique and when he turns back again to still life, as he does frequently, he does so with a greater freedom that enhances his compositions and has changed what pleases him to paint. What separates one artist from another in this genre is not just the skill- skills are learnt- it is the use to which the skills are put.

Living with a painting is a private experience. It is always a good idea to leave the painting and then return to it. It may have changed, or rather what we then see may have changed. Look, and look again; there is more to find than that the first seconds glance might suggest, enjoy the detail, enjoy the colour, enjoy the nearness and separation of the still objects. In time we understand why they had to be as they are."

Graham Williams, September 2005