The Line and the Scribble

15 Jun-20 Jul 2024
PV 14 Jun 2024, 6-8pm

Vestry St - Cross Lane Projects
London N1 7RE


The Scribble  -  A Radical Disruption of Traditional Themes.

Rebecca Scott, an influential figure in contemporary art, has continuously challenged and redefined artistic norms through her innovative use of line and colour. After completing her BA in Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art and an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, London, Scott quickly gained recognition with her debut solo exhibition ‘Decoy’ at the Serpentine Gallery in 1991. This ground-breaking show, which sold out rapidly and caught the attention of notable collectors like Charles Saatchi, showcased her unique ability to juxtapose seemingly disparate subjects.

Scott’s early work, particularly the large-scale ‘engine and flower’ series, vividly contrasts the masculine imagery of 1960s American muscle car engines with delicate, meticulously rendered floral arrangements. This series employs rich, sensuous colours to create a visual dialogue between symbols of gender, emphasizing their equal presence and power. Central to this body of work is a thin, disruptive yellow line, which upon closer inspection, reveals an analytical depiction of male or female genitalia. This radical interruption is exemplified in pieces such as ‘Double Barrel,’ (1990), ‘Vesalius Peonies,’ (1990) and ‘Sharing’ (1994).

Throughout the 1990s, Scott further explored these themes, experimenting with techniques that obscure and fragment the composition. In works like ‘Machinations of a Rose’ (1995), she employs a wet-on-wet process to create gestural marks that fracture the visual plane in a kaleidoscopic manner. In ‘Spectacular Blooms’ (1991), the line transforms into an oval, subtly referencing female genitalia and asserting a powerful female presence within the mechanical world. This line, created by leaving a gap of exposed canvas under-painted with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, provokes the viewer to reconsider the depicted subjects.

In her more recent work, Scott revisits earlier paintings with a bolder, more defined ‘scribble.’ This line, painted simultaneously with the rest of the composition, disrupts the continuity of her landscapes, becoming thicker, stronger, and more assertive. As Phyllida Barlow notes, this scrawl, both familiar and unique, conveys a human urgency and marks the presence of the artist. The line, once an analytical tool, has evolved into a dominant element within Scott’s landscapes, painted directly onto the canvas with pure, unadulterated colour.

Scott’s work also engages with the history of British landscape painting, a genre traditionally associated with male artists and notions of wealth, power, and ownership. Her confident, large brushstrokes transform the vast Cumbrian landscapes she inhabits, integrating her disruptive line to challenge and reinterpret these associations. The line, now an integral part of her compositions, forces the surrounding paint to adapt, often breaking free from the canvas and behaving unpredictably.

In summary, Rebecca Scott’s paintings from 1991 to 2024 exemplify a dynamic evolution in her artistic practice. Through her radical use of line and colour, she disrupts traditional symbols and narratives, creating a powerful visual commentary on gender, identity, and the human experience.

By Stella Whalley

About the artist: Rebecca Scott (b. Cumbria, UK) lives and works between London and Cumbria, and is the Co-Founder and Director of Cross Lane Projects in Kendal and Vestry St – Cross Lane Projects in London. Scott gained a BA in Fine Art (Painting) from Chelsea School of Art and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, London. Scott has work in private and public collections nationally and internationally, and has exhibited in London, Cumbria, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. In 2019, she was a finalist for Cumbria Life’s Visual Artist of the Year award.


Selected works


The Line and the Scribble press release