ack was born in 1953 into a painting dynasty. He was part of the Morrocco family, his mother Rozelle was an artist and by the age of seven he was painting in oils. Indeed, everyone in his wider family had a house with a studio in it.
The question was not ‘if’ Jack would go into art, it was only a matter of ‘when’.
At seventeen, Jack was to enter the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. Here he studied under his uncle Alberto Morrocco. Jack Knox, David McClure and Dennis Buchan. Jack attributes the development of his painting skills to the very rigorous art education that he received at art school. He recounts the broad range of techniques that he was expected to master, including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography. He makes an interesting point, suggesting that in the 1960s and early 1970s, Scottish Art Schools still focused on the traditional painting skills, where English Art Schools had already moved on to the avant-garde. He attributes the current domination and success that Scottish artists are enjoying across the UK and in London to the fact that these traditional skills are missing elsewhere. Jack went on from Art School to lecture part-time at Dundee. In this period, many of the artists had to subsidise their painting with teaching. Jack didn’t particularly like teaching as he is too much of a perfectionist and, in his own words ‘doesn’t suffer fools gladly’. Instead he became a freelance graphic designer and progressed on to start his own Design Consultancy, which he ran for 12 years. During this period he continued to paint and submit to the annual RSA and RSW shows, but his painting output was low.
It was Rozelle, his mother who lured Jack back into full-time painting. She had committed to a Show at an Edinburgh Gallery and approached Jack to help her by sharing the show with her, as she could not meet the quantity of paintings required by the gallery. She did the same thing with an Aberdeen Gallery and Jack found himself back in full-time painting – his first love. Indeed, he was offered solo shows subsequently by each of the galleries. Rozelle was a clever mother who knew that it was a sin for her son’s talent to be wasted outside art.
Jack cites the American portrait painter John Singer Sargent as an inspiration. His brushwork was sublime and his paintings were painted with a consummate ease, “He worked hard to make painting look easy.” He also mentions Picasso who he greatly admired for his imagination and his genius. Jack suggests the intellectual challenge of his own compositions is the ability to create or recreate an atmosphere that the viewer can enjoy.
Jack is a versatile painter; able to paint in multiple genres, however it was around six years ago that he found his journey into landscape, which is underpinning his most successful period. It started when he bought a property in the South of France. From this base he travels to towns like Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence, where he can absorb and capture his interpretation of these beautiful French scenes. This region, particularly inspires Jack: the rich darks caught in the shadows and the fact that, with the mediterranean sunlight, the ground is so light, which allows for the dramatic contrasts that are a feature of his atmospheric compositions.
His painting style in France is much looser, than for instance Venice where the dominance of the buildings dictates a tighter style of painting. Venice is his other love. Jack loves the water and the tranquility, which he says, “suits his mind.” He considers it is unique, where you get a sense that it hasn’t changed for two hundred years.
Jack has included a range of his painting styles in the show with his dramatic still life’s, which he considers is pure picture making, where he is not limited by reference and can create a puzzle, a free composition. He has also included some of his striking figurative nude compositions, which also serve to demonstrate that we are getting the very rare opportunity to enjoy and experience one of our contemporary Scottish Masters.