list.co.uk/festival Reviews | FESTIVAL VISUAL ART
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BARBARA RAE: RETURN JOURNEY Welcome retrospective of Scottish artist ●●●●● KENNY HUNTER: REPRODUCTIVE! Sculptor questions the role of ‘the copy’ ●●●●●
It could feel like a risk for a private gallery to devote its entire space for the month of the Edinburgh Festival to a single artist. This exhibition feels like a no-brainer. After several rooms of paintings spanning 50 years of Barbara Rae’s career, you’re left chiefly with one question: why is there not a bigger retrospective in a public institution? Artists have been questioning the role of the copy in contemporary art for decades. In this solo exhibition, Kenny Hunter opens up the debate in relation to contemporary sculpture, arguing that reproduction is an ongoing creative process rather than a series of meaningless repetitions without the ‘aura’ of an original.
A scattering of early works from the 1960s and Hunter argues that sculpture’s production of
1970s show flashes of colour emerging from dark backgrounds. By the late 1980s, colour is everywhere, strong, saturated shades, adeptly placed to riff off one another. Rae moves fluidly between painting and printmaking, and combines the two. Forms that could be dismissed as simple gradually yield up more and more detail.
Almost always, the starting point lies in landscape. The palette will vary depending on the location and the time of day. Sometimes Rae seems to combine in a single canvas the sense of looking across a landscape and looking down from an aerial perspective. At other times she seems to cut a plane through the land itself. Complex and bold and dancing on the edge of abstraction, Rae’s paintings leave us in no doubt that we are in the presence of a major artist. (Susan Mansfield) ■ Open Eye Gallery, 557 1020, until 31 Aug, free.
models and casts lends itself readily to the creation of multiples and blurs the distinction between original and copy. He says, ‘within the field of sculpture reproduction has always been present and key to its development’. His work, ‘Two Identical Forms, 2016’ fits neatly with this argument, where a white plaster cast and a bronze sculpture of the same model sit side by side.
Hunter also explores the possibilities of digital processes. In ‘Migration of the Aura (Endless Edition)’, he has created a small and unassuming sculpture of a nuclear mushroom cloud, which is also available as a free download. He thereby opens his image up for reuse; a democratic approach to the sharing of imagery which is so prevalent in today’s culture. (Rosie Lesso) ■ Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 551 4490, until 24 Sep, free.
DONOVAN & SIEGEL: HISTORY MACHINES UK premiere of work by Toronto artists ●●●●●
Contemporary art often seems to have an uneasy relationship with printmaking, but Canadian artists Matt Donovan and Hallie Siegel are entirely comfortable, both in using it as their medium, and pulling it apart to look at what it does. Some works in this Edinburgh Printmakers show
engage with historic processes, such as the ‘Self- Printing Book’, with its brass typeset pages. Text works on the walls appear much more modern, showing a sustained interest in typography. There is such a range of work, even in this
comparatively small space, that it’s hard at times to work out the focus of their concerns. They playfully fuse ancient and modern with the ‘Haikube’ – a kind of Rubik’s cube for the making of haiku poetry, and the ‘Portrait project’, a wheel which prints out a looping text by Canadian poet Christian Bok. Other works ask questions of the digital, such as
‘Alias’, which uses embossed squares to mirror and magnify the effect of pixellation. While it sets out to show the frustration of trying to render a perfect curve, it becomes a beautiful abstract work in itself. (Susan Mansfield) ■ Edinburgh Printmakers, 557 2479, until 22 Oct, free.
SALLY HACKETT: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH Irreverent monument dedicated to youth ●●●●●
There is something audacious about plonking an enormous birthday cake-shaped fountain slap-bang in the middle of the courtyard belonging to the Museum of Edinburgh. It’s immediately obvious what the title of the work is: gaudy gold letters like birthday candles protrude from the ‘cake’s’ baby-blue icing to proclaim ‘The Fountain of Youth’. Against the backdrop of a historical building, with its grey stonework and austere relics from 16th-century Edinburgh, Sally Hackett’s monument to youth is both brilliant and faintly ridiculous.
Each tier is lavishly decorated with ceramics glazed by children from Tollcross Primary School. Hackett’s work often adopts a faux-naïve aesthetic, so contributions by children don’t look out of place. Though the many head-shaped ceramics were clearly designed to contain the children’s self-portraits, a large proportion seem to have diverged from the plan. Among the blobby faces are paintings of trees, trucks and people dancing. The best one is mostly blank with a tiny drawing of a cat floating in the middle.
Despite its apparent frivolity, The Fountain of Youth is supposed to draw our attention to more serious issues around representation and the veneration of youth. Edinburgh is a city stuffed with monuments in commemoration of (mostly deserving) older men, but women and young people are almost absent. However, it’s hard to dwell too long on such matters in the presence of such a brazenly optimistic-looking fountain: it’s much easier to watch its jets of water spit merrily over the tiers to hit disgruntled tourists in search of historical artefacts.
While hardly groundbreaking, this is a joyous and delightfully
irreverent artwork. It seems to suggest that we ought to spend less time commemorating the dead and more time living in the moment: a sentiment no one can really dispute. (Laura Campbell) ■ Museum of Edinburgh, Rear Courtyard, until 28 Aug, free.
18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 93 18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 93
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