Saturday 2 April 2016

GLASGOW, April 2016

In the 1980s MAYFEST was the big 3 week long city-wide arts festival. Nowadays it's GI. Nothing to do with Americans, but every 2 years since 2005 for 18 days the GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL visual arts take over all of Glasgow. 
In 2014 I was hugely disappointed. Let's hope 2016 is better. With over 200 artists in 36 solo 40 group shows, there should be something worthwhile. The elitist artspeak jargon press info does not auger well, especially for the public. This is a Glasgow event, supposedly for all, so why not regular plain language that all can understand?             
But before that "IMMERSIVE" flood - why oh why is everything immersive these days - I want to highlight some longstanding stalwarts like Billcliffe, Kelly Gallery, Art Exposure & Compass. People who want to buy art to hang on their walls come here. 

The KELLY Gallery hosts a show of lush oils by DAVID MARTIN who was at Glasgow School of Art in the 1940s.  A contemporary of Joan Eardley, Anne Redpath & David Donaldson, Martin now 93, is still painting. His vision is underpinned by strong academic training sheer hard work. Colourful, bold, upbeat, joyous, his landscapes & still lives are a synthesis of form structured into simple shapes & rhythmical lines with COLOUR his hallmark. 

The BILLCLIFFE Gallery opened in 1992, taking over the building formally occupied by the Fine Art Society where Roger Billcliffe had been Director since 1979. Alongside paintings, he also shows beautiful modern jewellry and ceramics. Currently Pierre Williams has a array of individual ceramic sculptures, all figures adorned with lovely pattern. Perfect for Spring! 

ART EXPOSURE owner Frances Lowrie is also passionate about figurative work. Her lead artist is Gerald Burns who graduated from GSA in 1983. He was principal of art at St Aloysius till 1999. Steven Lindsay & Cherylene Dyer, also figurative painters, also capture memorable portrait heads. 

Art Exposure opened in 1989 in the city centre & now occupies 516 Great Western Rd where Frances continues to encourage artists young & old. The Gallery is a very informal place, easy to visit and chat. 

Peter STANDENnow 80 and busy as ever, exhibits his characteristic etchings.  A member of The Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop since 1972, and of the Society of Scottish Artists since 1965, 
he explains, "Ever since childhood I have been intrigued by scenes of the Roman Campagna depicted in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries - the grandeur of the classical ruins now home to sheep, goats and peasants. Now that the consensus is that the earth itself is being ruined and that time is running out before it can be saved, with a possible rise in sea levels my work is more appropriate than ever." We may see some of Standen's paintings at 516 soon. 

Peter Nardini had some nice paintings, 

There were old favourites like Todd Gardner & Bryan Evans, and others, new to me: Libby Anderson's Gulls in Flight; Lynn Howarth, Louise Dorrian's Farm on Mull. 

Returning from recent trips to the remote Sutherland and Caithness area of Scotland and also from Norway, Gregor Smith was inspired by the stark crags & stacks at Duncansby as well as startling Norwegian landforms to create many lyrical atmospheric watercolours and prints - a dramatic vision of land meeting sea

Smith studied drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art under Sir Robin Philipson and James Cumming 1962-66

Belinda Rush Jansen studied sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1983. Tutored by Vincent Butler, she learned to use stone, marble and bronze. A regular exhibitor at the RSA, she was awarded Best Female Sculptor in 1996. 
Her love for wild & domestic animals is obvious in her work. Her tactile carvings explore the essence of animal and human spiritreflecting her interest in cave art, Eskimo carvings, Egyptian & Chinese tomb animals and their spiritual symbolism.

Founded in 1969, the pioneering Compass Gallery will soon have survived 50 years. It gets no grants, no funding. Sadly not a penny. As director Jill Gerber says, "The Scottish galleries scene is now so lively, that it’s easy to forget the pioneering work done by Compass. Christmas Shows, New Generation Shows, paying by instalment; all these are now taken for granted and have been adopted by galleries nationwide. Yet Compass Gallery did them all first, starting in the early 70s."

IAN COOK studied at Glasgow School of Art 1969-1973, received the Cargill Travelling Scholarship to Spain and North Africa in '74. He has not stopped travelling since! His current 2 part show (at House for an Art Lover and at Fidra Fine Art, North Berwick)  is inspired by travels to Central & South America. 
 I last wrote about him in 1996 when he exhibited at Glasgow's Concert Hall. He was then involved with native American Indians, their tribes: Sioux, Pawnee, Iroquois, Algonquin Blackfoot, rituals & legends. "I went at pow-wow time- camped on Indian reservations, stayed in teepees." Buffalo country was then his home.
Cook still likes profile heads, their hats and headdresses indicative of totemic symbolism, medicine men, rainmakers.  
 He has not lost his gestural spontaneity, nor his romantic streak. The new work focuses more on figures, harshly lit as before but more assured, more dynamic. A figurative expressionist, Cook at 60 is painting up a storm.

Last but never least MURRAY ROBERTSON's amazing mural for STRAVAIGIN on Gibson St Glasgow. A triumph! 

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