Thursday 4 September 2014

In Glasgow - still glowing from huge success of the Commonwealth Games - Glasgow Print Studio has had a raft of interesting shows & talks. On cue David Shrigley kept us amused while he talked about his erratic career in the print world. Nearby Bronwen Sleigh's admirable etchings are inspired by massive if neglected industrial structures. 
I found the GPS Generation contribution, Michael Fullerton a deal more interesting than most.  He dots around rather too much but in the process covers plenty of ground. Surprisingly he addresses portraiture in conventionally mode. These rather ordinary large scale paintings do nothing for the show despite his interest in power & figures with a complex political background. But he also has a happy knack for display of large prints & flashing lights!

Now the space is filled by Elizabeth BLACKADDER's print retrospective spanning 30 years of collaborative production at GPS.  In half a century of printmaking she's covered most techniques. Great draughtsmanship means she captures her famous cats,  flowers & Venice landmarks with a signature economy of means, avoiding any suggestion of the saccharin. GPS has helped her create over 100 lithographs, etchings, screenprints & woodcutsQuite remarkable. A lovely show. 
Down the road SCOTT MYLES's Modern Institute installation, Mummies, is helped by a huge praying hands (printed by GPS) which give impact & act as background to orange cubes. These are made out of 10 suitcases wrapped, shrouded & encased in amber plastic. Myles sees these as transitional objects loaded with 'subjective investments.' I am not so sure. Prints + woven wall hangings look at ancient & new results from 'programming' - a nice allusion. 
At Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, (GOMA) Nathan COLEY's installation of 286 places of Edinburgh worship, created for Birmingham, looks splendid. Made from cardboard: exact, precise, hard edged, it's an ecclesiastical toy town with doors, windows but no icons. No crosses, no emblems of Jewish, Methodist, Catholic etc dogma. Coley has long been interested in architecture & this is obviously done with love. 
GOMA's ground floor is full of Douglas GORDON's 81 videos on 101 TVS. Placed in a circle - or oval- they include "Pretty much every film & video from about 1992 until now" he says. His famous Psycho is at Edinbro's GMA, but here we have plenty to choose from. I vote for the hands & arms, some wrestling with themselves,(Divided Self 1996) + the elephant filmed in Gagosian's huge space in Chelsea NYC. In December Gordon will flood the 55,000 sq ft hall New York Armory nearby to us with a huge installation Tears become .. streams become.. in collaboration with pianist Helene Grimaud.  It's the 8th Armory commission. This water, light & music event should be a showstopper. 
While Gordon is the best known of Scotland's current stars, Sara BARKER, new to me, has a great display of structures made up of wire & chain. Drawings in space attached to a wall - black or white - a light framework welded together into complex forms. Then reminded me of Bronwen Sleigh's work. The 2 could make an interesting dual show together. 
Fiona Robertson'Green Man sculpture on Glasgow's Necropolis may startle some. (What would Kingsley Amis say?) Constructed from wire and turf, it is part of an ongoing project & performance. It sits very well there! I hope it might stay. Less happy is Cathy Wilkes thin show at Tramway as part of Generation. Such a waste of a great space. The Scottish china is out of keeping with the forlorn refugee figures, more dolls than emotive beings.

The GLASGOW GROUP have ben going for over 50 years. Founded by artists for artists this early cooperative has had huge shows (at Tramway) smaller shows at the Lillie Art Gallery. Now they do an interim 3 week exhibition at Hillhead Library, Byres Rd, Glasgow when Philip Reeves shows terrific etchings and collages. Others include Gregor Smith, Shona Dougall & Damian Henry.

 Nick EVANS signature white plaster sculpture is certainly big n bold. Like dahlia garden tubers, his creations writhe, their unruly limbs awkward against the African geometrics patterned floor. This is Dundee's McManus Gallery's Generation show, but it is not immersive. This word has a lot to answer for. However the widespread nature of Generation is admirable. 
Nearby A Silvered Light: Scottish Art Photography from Dundee's Collection" is a wonderful show of work by 40 photographers covering 1985-99 like Colin Ruscoe, Catherine Yass, (great shots of the Tay bridge) Wendy McMurdo (showing at Street Level) Maud Sulter, Patricia Macdonald, Calum ColvinThe collection of 1,000 images includes 800 by Joe McKenzie.
Photography's acceptance as Fine Art is recent in Scotland.  Stills Gallery started in 1977, Portfolio in 1988, Street Level 1989. Tom Joshua Cooper came to GSA in 1982 (Dundee bought 2 of his pix in 1985) accompanied by a 3 day conference. The Scottish Photography Archive was founded at the SNG in 1984. Fotofeis 1993 & 95 promotes photography across Scotland. But remember there were already studios operating in Dundee by 1849. The city had its first photo exh in 1954!
Across the silvery Tay at Newport -on-Tay the Tatha Gallery has a prime position right on the water with light reflecting into their beautiful new spaces. Dawson MURRAY is the star of the current show with shadowed garden pools & ever-changing ripples, alongside Ann Oram.  Richard Demarco's lively pen n ink drawings of boats at Kippford & the Crinan Canal are best sellers.
Welcome to this new Scottish gallery! 


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