Birds of a Feather

STILL LIFE WITH PARROT was painted in 2006 by Alexander Fraser RSA. It is a complex still life composition demonstrating truly wonderful draughtsmanship.

But how do you tackle such a complex composition?

Alexander Fraser would position all the physical juxtaposed paper material and three dimensional objects on his studio floor in Muchalls. Whole areas of his studio would be consumed with layouts such as this, as he developed his concepts for his paintings.

Often, as in this painting, references are found for his own previous work – in the form of exhibition catalogues. Also included would be contrasting visual references by those that he greatly admired – such as Velázquez, (the egg), the Dutch Masters, Van Eyk, Vermeer & Durer (the use of perspective distortion) and Brueghel.

A star in this composition, the stuffed African Grey Parrot sat on the studio floor along with the documents. It was collected by the artist from a junk shop in Market Street, Aberdeen. A small simply formed glass with flowers also features amidst the undulating sea of papers.

The same shapely formed glass (featuring different flowers) was the subject of various earlier paintings by the artist.

Indeed it reaappears within the sea of documents in Still Life with Parrot in the form of an image of a painting featured in a previous exhibition catalogue by the artist.

Alexander Fraser was an avid reader and enjoyed the work of Jorge Louis Borges and Umberto Ecco.

At the bottom of a garden in the North East village of Muchalls Fraser would create his very own Garden of Forking Paths, his own maze of magical realism using oil paint on canvas. His thoughtful and clever compositional designs weave in and out through time and we are most grateful that we can share and enjoy them on this day and every other.

Alexander Fraser RSA studied at Gray’s School of Art between 1958 and 1962. He would become a highly respected senior lecturer in Drawing and Painting at the School in Aberdeen.

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