Supporting Partick Thistle: Paintings, Rob McLeod

As part of our ongoing partnership with Dailyserving, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Marilyn Goh’s article on Rob McLeod.

Even fanatic football fans would be hard-pressed to remember a Glaswegian football team called Partick Thistle, a perpetual underdog in First Division Scottish Football League that’s oft-joked about because of their non-winning ways. Getting behind a team that tries every week but gets nowhere requires no small measure of faith, an action probably synonymous with holding out hope in the long term for that which may never materialise. Supporting Partick Thistle is a show that utilizes the metaphor of supporting a losing football team that is akin to the nature and process of painting, a medium which Glasgow-born artist Robert McLeod believes most people think should be dead and buried.

McLeod’s hardly naive about this realm – he recognizes all too well the usefulness of painting in what he does – yet he remains a steadfast bearer of its gilded history and value, practicing it, then teaching it. He came to New Zealand 40 years ago wanting to continue where abstract artists such as Willem de Kooning and Alan Davie left off, looking to break away from the rigid formality of his art training in Glasgow. But after 30 years of studying minimalism and abstract expressionism, McLeod noticed a part of Micky Mouse’s ears in an abstract work and turned his practice to exploring the figurative. Most of the work in this show comes from the past decade, comprising mostly three-dimensional paintings on plywood, where layered forms and colour combine to create a motley crew of cartoonish figures that are loud, grotesque and irreverent.