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Andrew Marr

(The Demarco Archive, 13th-25th Aug, 26th-8th September 2019)

Demarco_Marr_Venice_Press_Shots (1 of 9)

Andrew Marr (Art and Healing, La Scuola di San Marco 2019) Photography: Marco J. Federici


Press Release regarding the Demarco European Art Foundation exhibition of paintings and drawings by Andrew Marr entitled 'Nineteen Paintings and Nine Drawings about Brexit, Scotland and Healing'.  This exhibition will be presented during the period of the Edinburgh Festival in the Demarco Wing of Robert McDowell's Summerhall Arts Centre.


The exhibition will be open from 10am - 6pm (Daily) (Closed Mondays) from  13th - 25th August  and from  26th August - 8th September 1pm - 6pm (Daily) (Closed Mondays)


There will be a dialogue between Richard Demarco and Andrew Marr in the Red Lecture Theatre at Summerhall from 3.30 until 5.00 pm on Monday 12th August.


The Private View, at which Andrew Marr will be present, will be from 6 till 8 pm on Monday 12th August.

On Wednesday 14th August there will be a Symposium relating to Andrew Marr's exhibition from 6 till 8 pm.   This will take place in relation to Andrew Marr's exhibition in the room normally defined as the Venice Room.  This is because Richard Demarco had the privilege of presenting an exhibition of Andrew Marr's paintings as part of his programme during this year's Venice Biennale. This took place in the historic building of La Scuola Grande di San Marco which is now associated with the Civic Hospital of Venice.  It was first associated with healing in the 13th century and under its aegis there is a unique combination of libraries, art works, medical drawings and paintings linking the world of medical science and art.  The programme was entitled 'Art and Healing' and it should be noted that the exhibition by Andrew Marr during this year's Festival will be entitled 'Nineteen Paintings and Nine Drawings about Brexit, Scotland and Healing.'


Nineteen Paintings and Nine Drawings…about Brexit, Scotland and Healing


By Andrew Marr


In May 2019, at the kind invitation of Richard Demarco, I showed a suite of nine paintings in his exhibition at the historic Scuola Grande di San Marco, during the various Biennale. Ricky’s suggested theme was “art and healing”, and a highly enjoyable symposium followed, during which Venetians and Scots debated the effect of mass cultural tourism on Venice and Edinburgh. The talk ranged widely but it was an animated by a belief that paintings and drawings should matter, that art has a purpose. This exhibition builds on that event.

It includes the nine pictures shown in Venice. I had painted these in response to the first Edinburgh exhibition I had had, at Summerhall in April – abstract landscape pictures much concerned with the passing of time, seen through the riverbed of the Gruinard in Wester Ross. After those, I felt the urge to get to the human figure, albeit in an abstracted form, back into my pictures. Thinking about Venice, and the great acrobat and clown paintings of painters such as Guardi and the younger Tiepolo, I started to paint acrobats. I have always thought of my studio as a way of escaping the anger of current politics, but as these paintings developed, the figures became more menacing and more destructive, dropping things as they lurched about: and I asked myself whether the tribal anger of the Brexit debate had infiltrated itself into these pictures. I think the answer is obviously yes; but visitors to the show can decide for themselves.

Back in London, and back at work, I wanted to respond to the theme of art and healing that Richard Demarco had encouraged us to think about in Venice. So I returned to the speckled bliss of the Scottish landscape – making pictures such as “Magic Landscape”, which is set in Angus; and “Kathleen Jamie in Fife”, acknowledging one of my favourite poets. In “Little Local Gods in the Borders”, a dove of peace has appeared, though “Big Bird”, rearing above a formal garden, is anything but peaceful. Other pictures, such as the strange journey to find a pizza in Musselburgh late at night, and the older “Intensely Patriotic Picture” are more personal, going back to my schooling and my fascination with the Picts. The smaller oil paintings are expressions of frustration with self righteous nationalism of any kind. My painting is always based on drawing, which is for me absolutely prime and something I exercise myself with every single day. All the drawings here were produced alongside the paintings: I am afraid that I think some of them are better.

I am a firm believer that a painting is, first and foremost, an object with a subject – In other words, a flat surface with a message. So, “what’s it about?” isn’t for me a naïve or stupid question. Socialist realist art attempted a literal message, resulting in many banal and unsuccessful pictures. The glories of modern painting, from the great French and Spanish masters through to abstract Expressionism in America, made everyone think afresh about how to paint. But this didn’t mean that the subject, after many centuries of religious art, had suddenly died and would never come back. What we have to do is to learn to paint in a fresh way about the world around us as it is now – our memories, our feelings, our fears and hopes. I am not pessimistic about painting or its future; and I’d like to thank all my fellow optimist Richard Demarco for his friendship and support.

This Press Release is being emailed to you hoping that you can consider attending either one or all three of these events regarding Andrew Marr's exhibition.  All three of these events will be filmed and these films will form a key part of Richard Demarco's Edinburgh Festival Newsletter.

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