Christopher Wood RSW
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Magic Circle of Life

It was worth risking the yellow peril of East Lothian’s acres of rapeseed to see the work of two painters - in age, generations apart; in style, continents apart. Christopher wood graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1984 - “but I don’t think of myself as having trained there,” he says. “I trained here, looking out beyond Traprain Law, sketching in the fields, until I had absorbed enough of the landscape to work now only in the studio, entirely from my imagination”. Wood’s solo show of more than 40 abstractions of the world on his doorstep - at the Macaulay Gallery at Stenton, near Dunbar - is his sixth there in a row. In between he has been hung at the RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) and won two important prizes at annual shows of the Royal Glasgow Institute.

Wood's canvasses have moved up in scale and, as a consequence, his images have become more structured and forceful. He still conjures dreamy atmospheric passages of resonating colour, almost liquid in their coalescent intensity, and he has the gift of making these expressionist essays complete in themselves. But the larger works are rooted in more solid statements which invite specific interpretation - linear forms which introduce harsher textures, planes of scumbled broken colour, Sea and Sky, sun and moon, are indivisible, but is that dense mass a rock formation or harbour mouth, Traprain Law or the Bass Rock itself? Do those darts of high colour serve only as pictorial accent, or could they be prayer flags recalled from a recent trip to the Himalayas?

These are challenging works, some more coherent than others, but all bold and painterly. His titles are poetically unspecific. 'The moon lends away its light', 'At the drop of dusk', and 'At the round earth's imagined corners I do dwell'. It is fair to quote back at him that his world is a circle “of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere”. There is a hint of Eardley in his palette and his graceful division of space, and a suggestion too, of the aerial vision of William Burns, but in this exhibition Wood has begun to lay claim to the landscape he has lived in and learned to read during all the years of his adult life - as Gillies did in the same airt, and as Eardley did at Townhead and Catterline.

At The Round Earth's Imagined Corners I Do Dwell

© W Gordon Smith

The Scotland on Sunday, Spectrum Magazine, 28th May 1995