Inside Out is a solo exhibition by Scottish artist Ronald Forbes. The work of Ronald Forbes forms a narrative around the way we see and understand the world. It is about illusion, belief and reality – and the fuzzy edges between these.
Inside Out takes its title from the group of works created especially for this exhibition that comprises of three large paintings and a moving image work that presented as one unit share a range of elements and images. Prime among these is a human figure created from collaged elements of clothing, but with no human body. The figure or person is denoted by traces of a past presence, confronting us with a poignant absence. The paintings depict this personage in different poses, within a confined interior space, each with an image of a window, or a TV or a mirror – ways of framing and observing the world around us. In each painting the same table appears, and on it there is a range of images of objects relating to the natural world, including animals, birds and plants – perhaps a small Garden of Eden. In the related moving image work all the same elements appear, but here they move and change, dissolving and reappearing and transforming on through eternity.
Many of the concepts and formal interests in this major work make reference to periods of work undertaken when Forbes previously lived in Glasgow in the 1970s and 1980s. These include his Back to Nature work, which formed his first ever solo exhibition held at the Compass Gallery. It also refers to his TV Series paintings, and a series exploring mirror images, which were stimulated by the Victoria Café at the Glasgow School of Art where he was then a member of staff. This process of re-examination of earlier work, that Forbes calls a forward looking retrospective, has been a constant of his practice in recent years and this exhibition also features large paintings which re-visit his early fascination for the work of Giotto and of Vermeer, introducing audiences to the themes and style of Forbes’s practice that have remained constant and recognisable characteristics within his substantive bodies of work.
Ronald Forbes is primarily a painter, but film-making has played an important part in his career and a selection of his shorter films are presented within the exhibition. The exhibition will be also be accompanied by a screening of his most recent film, Fugue, 2018, a fictional documentary about an artist who has a great idea for an artwork, but then, tragically, forgets what it was. Fugue contemplates memory, speculation and our experience of time, past and future, as part of the continuing present. These concerns sit well with and indeed underpin the ideas that permeate all the works, paintings and films, on show in Inside Out.
Ronald Forbes has presented his work in solo, group and curated exhibitions in Scotland, England, Ireland, USA, Australia, Japan, France and the Netherlands. His paintings are held in a range of public collections in the UK, Ireland, USA, Poland and Australia. He has received many prizes, including the Guthrie Medal from the Royal Scottish Academy, prizes and nominations in various international film festivals and awards from bodies such as the Leverhulme Trust, the Carnegie Trust, the Scottish Arts Council and the Hope-Scott Trust. Forbes was highly engaged in higher art education, closing that part of his career as Head of Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, the University of Dundee in 2001. He has also undertaken many artist-in-residence posts nationally and internationally. He is an academician of the Royal Scottish Academy, an elected member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and a Professional Member of the Society of Scottish Artists.