Royal Academy of Arts, Sackler
9 October9 November 2003.
This landform is again recomposed for the four panels executed for the chapel of St Margaret at Truro cathedral in Cornwall. An important catalyst in this direction was Aitchison's Italian Government scholarship of 2000. From this stint at Montecastelli has emerged a powerful series of landscape paintings, thinly painted yet movingly emotive of place, of garden landscape. A distant, elevated crucifix of Montencastelli is introduced here via a series of figments; birds, plus a smaller, domestically scaled crucifix, a symbolic bird, a white horse, birds on a lake, vying with the moon (or possibly sun) set in the same picture frame. The portraits shown adopt for the most part the same conventional pose and expression, arms loosely folded, eyes glancing off to the right.
Aitchison's Royal Academy show is clearly a milestone for this painter, and has been meticulously curated and hung in Norman Foster's Sackler Galleries, where the scale is perfect for Aitchison's work. Its distillation of discreet images from everyday life is presented in a mode where elimination of the non-essential offers an unwritten code. Perhaps it is in Uglow's fastidious litany that the dynamic of form binds us in, while Aitchison provides us with escape routes outwards.