Leon Morrocco RSA RGI: From North to South
As the nights draw in and the grey days grow colder there is no finer remedy than the vibrant, blissful scenes of Leon Morrocco’s canvases to transport the viewer from the depth of Scottish winter into the essence of a Mediterranean summer.
This Christmas, Open Eye Gallery presents an exhibition celebrating Leon's fresh vigour for travel. A feast for the senses, these new paintings and works on paper take the viewer on a journey to the sun-drenched Greek island of Syros, via Malta, Portugal and Italy. Transported to shaded terraces, down narrow streets and along hidden alleyways, the viewer passes windows and doorways capturing snatched conversations and the locals continuing about their daily routine. Leon has an intrinsic and intuitive talent of portraying the narrative, not of the ‘picture postcard’ Mediterranean idyll but of the everyday life on the island.
In this exhibition Leon also revisits the harbours around his childhood home of Dundee, Arbroath, Buckie, Piteenweem and Fraserburgh. Fishing equipment and abandoned boats set the scene using the cooler, more subtle colour palette much departed from the romantic vibrancy of the harbours of the Mediterranean. Leon finds, however, much splendour in the working boatyards and docks of the north, representing a celebration of the strong, hard-working ethic of the Scottish fishermen depicted with a nostalgic warmth that being home evokes.
Leon Morrocco was born in Edinburgh in 1942, the first son of the artist Alberto Morrocco. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Slade School of Art in London and Edinburgh College of Art. In 1968 he won an Italian government scholarship to study at the Accademia di Brera in Milan. He was lecturer in Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art from 1965 to 1968, and then at Glasgow School of Art from 1969 to 1979. In 1979 he moved to Australia as Head of the Department of Fine Art at the Chisholm Institute in Melbourne. He retired in 1984 to devote all of his time to painting. Morrocco, who was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1971, had eight solo exhibitions in the UK before moving to Australia where he had a series of highly successful exhibitions in both Melbourne and Sydney. In 1991, he returned to Britain. His works reveal both his outstanding draughtsmanship and his passion for colour. His work can be found in many notable public and private collections, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, H.R.H Princess Margaret, Leeds Art Gallery, The Nuffield Foundation, and Queensland Art Gallery.