John ('Jack') Knox

How It Is (1968)

About this artwork

This painting was included in the artist’s solo show at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1971. The exhibition featured a number of large white canvases covered with strange hieroglyphic symbols. The paintings were inspired by Paolo Ucello’s ‘Rout of San Romano’, which had surprised Knox with its active composition when seen at close quarters. Knox’s painting features a variety of images and signs, using repeated colours and shapes in order to replicate the sense of movement he had so admired in Ucello’s painting. This encourages the viewer’s eye to move across the canvas, spotting differences and similarities. Some of the mysterious shapes are silhouettes of objects that Knox picked up on the beach near his home in Carnoustie.

  • title: How It Is
  • accession number: GMA 3010
  • artist: John ('Jack') KnoxScottish (1936 - 2015)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • materials: P.V.A., oil, pastel and black chalk on canvas
  • date created: 1968
  • measurements: 152.00 x 152.00 cm (framed: 153.00 x 153.00 x 2.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1987
  • copyright: © THE ARTIST

John ('Jack') Knox

John ('Jack') Knox

A skilled draughtsman who has produced a varied body of work, Knox is known for his sensuous use of colour. In the mid 1960s, he produced his Studio series of canvases using mixed media and ‘stream of consciousness’ imagery. These were followed by square white canvases covered with symbols. However, it was a visit to a Dutch museum that motivated Knox’s subsequent change of artistic direction to produce lusciously coloured images of food. It was the combination of seeing Dutch still life painting and noticing the way that the food in the cafeteria was presented as if framed and on display that provided the inspiration. Knox was born in Kirkintilloch and studied at Glasgow School of Art, where he later became Head of Drawing and Painting.