Renny Tait, “Battersea, Reflection White Stripe,” 2017, oil on canvas

Scottish artist Renny Tait is internationally recognized for his painted depictions of idealized architectural landscapes, exploring the underlying geometric order of the built environment in pursuit of pure, simple form. His newest oils head to the walls of this established gallery next week.

Flowers Gallery in London is overjoyed to soon be presenting the latest artworks to emerge from the studio of Scottish artist Renny Tait. “Thresholds to Brighter Worlds” opens on January 11 and continues through February 17. Empty of human life and arranged in harmonious formal groupings, Tait’s landscapes have often been likened to still life and are “guided by principles of abstraction rather than naturalism,” the gallery writes. Of his process, the artist points to “moving elements of sky or background as a still life painter like Morandi might move his bottles.”

“Many of the buildings represented in Tait’s current exhibition are familiar London landmarks, such as Battersea Power Station, and subject to which he has returned over many years,” the gallery continues. “Referring to the power station as a ‘cathedral of industry,’ he draws comparisons between its grand chimneys and Greek columns or the spires of Gothic churches. In ‘Battersea, Reflection White Stripe,’ a black void replaces the sky, heightening the structure’s mysterious, metaphysical properties, while the solid reflection underpinning the composition on the glass-like surface of the river below evokes a sense of the building’s towering strength.

“Architectural details are simplified to highlight their classical form (for example, the domed structure of ‘St Paul’s Cathedral, Blue Sky, Clouds, from the Thames’). Here, Tait explores ideas of memory associated with architectural form, considering the imprint of iconic buildings on the imagination and how this affects the way that we view the world around us. In ‘Hayward Blue Sky,’ Tait has reconfigured the Brutalist architecture of the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank to include a dominant central tower. The darkened lookouts and pointed apexes of its design recall Tait’s theme of Scottish castles, which he has described as symbols of refuge and hope in a hostile environment. The lighthouse is another long-running motif, which can also be considered a haven or outpost, set against a backdrop of the seemingly infinite and untamable ocean. In ‘Bell Rock Lighthouse,’ Tait captures the structure as it might have looked when it was first built, displaying an appreciation for the pleasing, and yet entirely functional, bell-like tapering design. The archetypal bright blue sky, present in many of the paintings in the exhibition, offers an opening or threshold, according to Tait, ‘to brighter worlds.’

“While his urban and industrial landscapes recall the factory paintings of American artist Charles Sheeler, Tait’s precise lines and hard-edged shapes reflect an attentiveness to the picture’s surface more closely aligned with the concerns of modernist abstraction. According to the late author and journalist Robert Heller, Tait’s paintings “with their virtuoso technique, bridge the worlds of classicism and abstraction. The later influences — Mondrian, Morandi, Barnett Newman — blend comfortably with the very different worlds of Bellini and Wren to form Tait’s own mysteriously depopulated universe of color harmonies and glowing light.’”

To learn more, visit Flowers Gallery.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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