Above: Scenes in the sheddie. Footdee Street Party, 1986. Joyce Cairns. A typical example of her current style which she describes as “very tight and calligraphic'. Left: The Autistic Neurologist by Graham Durward. Currently on a Whitney Scholarship to New York. Durward combines a strong style with political and
SGOTLAND’S ART IN THE 80.3.
FIGURINE IT UT
SallyKinnes and Alice Bain pool some divided expert Opinions about innovative young Scottish artists.
For the first time in its 40 year history the Edinburgh International Festival will be holding an exhibition of contemporary Scottish art this summer. Trailed last year by the Artists at Work event, this year’s exhibition will be held at the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. At the same time an exhibition will be mounted by Andrew Brown, director of Edinburgh‘s 369 Gallery. Called The Continuing Tradition. showing Scottish art from 1900 to the
8 The List 6— 19 March
The contemporary art scene in Scotland is currently the focus of much attention, not all ofit complimentary. Art critic Clare Henry writes with conviction and feeling about a ‘Scottish Renaissance‘. and Scottish Television have a documentary planned on the subject for August. Others would call the attention unjustified ‘hypc’. Central to the debate is the work ofone artist in
of materials, here
combining plaster Below: Wisdom. with ‘tound obiects' 19$, by Gareth and is leading Fisher. Fisher seeks aliver sculpture
to explore the nature
particular, 32 year old Stephen Campbell. A graduate from the experimental media department at Glasgow School of Art, Campbell stands head and shoulders above the rest in fashionable acclaim and in New York his pictures command huge prices. Campbell often uses the same east of characters in his work, taken for example from P. G. Wodehouse or philosophy. and works on a massive scale, frequently as big as 9 feet by 7 feet. Strident rather than powerful, his figures occupy a steep, expressionist space, ﬁlled with naturalistic detail. He works very quickly. ‘His mind moves incredibly fast‘, says Keith Hartley. Deputy Keeper at the Gallery of Modern Art, ‘he can hardly get his words out.‘ He describes Campbell’s work as being ‘almost a stream of consciousness‘ in as much as he often starts a painting with one idea and ends with something completely different. Campbell spearheaded a movement which took full account of the commercial opportunities for art, a philosophy which was not without its detractors. Certainly Andrew Brown finds it ‘totally cynical‘and quotes Campbell as saying that he gave the Americans what they thought Scottish art should be with tweeds, Scottish landscapes, Iitle houses, deer and
. ' ‘ if g
Campbell has however penetrated an international market and opened the opportunity for others to do the same. Persuading the market to come here is still very difficult. Andrew Brown sold two of Ian Hughes‘ paintings from a recent exhibition to one of Los Angeles biggest dealers, but he had to go to America to do it.
Campbell will only be one strand of the work to go on view at the Gallery of Modern Art. It is generally agreed that there are too many lateral inﬂuences at work for there to be a recognisably ‘Scottish school‘ but there are a number ofcommonly held characteristics. ‘Scotland has made a name with figurative painting‘ says art critic Clare Henry. In England in the 60s and 70s life drawing had all but disappeared from art colleges but. unfashionably, it was continued in Scotland. When the Council for National Academic Awards visited Scotland five years ago they described this as like being in the dark ages. Now ‘cveryone is thanking their lucky stars‘ says Keith Hartley.
Ifa general impression of the contemporary scene emerges it is a sense of confidence and assertiveness in both style and attitude. Sam Ainsley, artist and