ART & EXHIBITIONS LIST
internationalisrn was. he said. citing the French Revolution which left two million dead. At the heart of his talk was a call to preserve ‘Englishness'. which is now so benighted that he and his friends have to turn it into some sort of fortress.
It is hard to know what strategies to adopt in the face ofsuch Thatcheristic rudeness on Scruton's part and inept planning by the ACGB. Gavin Jantjcs (a black artist and writer originally from South Africa). had declined an invitation to sit on the same panel. unwilling to become part of a set-piece confrontation. He spoke from the ﬂoor in the final plenary session about the ‘attitudinal problems' evident throughout the structuring ofthe conference. Michael Ignatieff. writer. historian. and broadcaster (part Russian. part Scottish. originally from Canada). followed Scruton. In his elegantly formulated and delivered ‘moderate defence of internationalism‘ he was able to rebut some of Scruton's cruder excesses. ‘Culture is political. or it is nothing but cultivation‘ he pointed out. after saying that if our definition ofculture was reduced to ‘the arts' it would become empty. He suggested that. since the Enlightenment. ‘Iiurope has always tried to keep the state from dominating society and conversely to keep society from dominating the state. . . above all we want to defend a realm of public
opinion where no truth is privileged except a single rule of an equality of rights for doctrines and ideas'. Later Ignatieffexpanded on his position. ‘I‘m not a Socialist. I‘d be regarded as a very suspect wishy
washy Liberal.’ I wondered if. given
his cosmopolitan background. he had a passionate attachment to any particular area. It turned out that before coming to Glasgow he had been staying with a cousin born in Dumfries and Galloway. and this is one area ofwhich he is particularly fond —— along with the south of France. Russia in general. London. . . ‘I think all attachments are elective. People think attachments have to be attachments ofbirth. attachments of fate'.
Hand in hand with that attachment has to go a respect for cultural differences. which Ignatieffthought was more discernible here than in England: ‘The great thing about Scotland is it‘s the most outwardly turned of the stateless nations. It‘s always been much more internationalist than England ever was‘. To move towards an acceptance ofdivcrsity you have to assume that people can communicate across boundaries of class and nationhood. for example. but not presume cultural equalities. Ignatieffdescribed himselfas ‘an optimist against Roger Scruton's romantic pessimism. I think diversity has a great future. though it‘s much tougher to defend an optimism in the future than it was in my grandmother‘s childhood.‘
What hope does he hold out for cultural diversity within an expanding Europe? ‘Nobody gives a shit about the EEC: I mean I like Lord Carrington. but nobody gives a shit about Lord Carrington‘s Europe. the Europe ofNATO. of high councils. and arts conferences like this. The Europe which grips people and accounts for the high viewing figures during the Rumanian
, revolution — that's the Europe I'm
enthusiastic about. But it probably requires much more self-government among the stateless nations than we have.‘
lgnatieff left the conference after the first day. I wondered later if he had noticed the ironic symbolism of the barbed wire blocking the bridge from the Euro conference centre to the now derelict site of the Glasgow Garden Festival.
Steven Campbell: 0n Form and Fiction, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow.
Steven Campbell is lrequently relerred to as the leading painter ol the New Glasgow Boys. This raises three important points for consideration, belore his work is taken into account. First is the epithet ‘boy'. Although it relers back to the so-called ‘Glasgow Boys’ at the turn at the century, its present-day revival is disturbing. Naming Is at crucial importance; the use at diminutives occurs with marginalised or peripheral sections oi a mainstream - In this case, Scottish artists are named as diminutive. (Significantly, ‘boy’ is the word used by white racists In their lace-to-lace contact with black men In South Alrlca and the USA.) Second Is the concept ol newness. Murdo MacDonald has written at how Scottish culture is seen In terms at renalssances. It’s always being reborn; it's rarely regarded as mature or established - so this attitude relnlorces the use at the word ‘boy’. The third point is that an lnlormal grouping ol painters have been given this collective name, which has now become a convenient hook on which to hang discussions at contemporary Scottish art. They are the only clearly named Scottish group; Glasgow 1990 media coverage has therelore lrequently, easily and erroneously been able to identity these painters as being representative at contemporary Scottish art when in tact they would be better described as representative at a slgnilicant minority.
So, what ol Campbell's work? It has not been seen in any meaninglul quantity In Scotland for a long time, during which Campbell himseli has become mythologised. In contrast, his success in the international art market
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and his personal eccentricities have been lully charted. The exhibition provides a good opportunity lor reassessment. The environment he created is an innovative departure. The walls of the large gallery are covered with drawings; superimposed are a lew large gouache paintings in heavy irames, ol images worked-up lrom the drawings. The light is dim; two park benches are in the middle ol the gallery. A tape plays Campbell’s own version ol ‘Je t'alme’, the Jane Blrkln and Serge Glnsbourg Slxtles' hit, with continuous orgasmic lemale breathing. This was Initially distracting and olienslve, and ultimately nauseating; but also It made me consider more carelully his use at the lemale nude (also an innovation), which at llrst glance had seemed merely anothercypher in his work. The tape however conllrmed that Campbell is tollowlng the tradition at projecting male sexuality onto the lemale. Maybe this Is where the word ‘llctlon' in the title at the show came lrom, but somehow I doubt it; the show is not Ironic. The painting Is not bad enough to serve that purpose - though people who saw the Vigorous Imagination will know he can handle paint better than he does here. There is humour though: the tweedy young men stlll lind themselves in alarming, Glen Baxter-ish snuahons.
As I walked down Sauchiehall Street a shop was blaring out Tina Turner’s ‘We don't need another hero’. It struck me that that this is what Campbell's men seem scared oi. However, the lorm ol the exhibition — which relnstates the artist as here — disallows any serious consideration at the issue. (Hilary Robinson)
17» west regent st. glasgow g2 4rl scotland. tutezt em
PHILIP REEVES Recent paintings, collages and prints
10th March-5th April
With funds from Glasgow District Council Festivals Budget
THE BARBIZON GALLERY
LITHOGRAPHS 2nd - 25th April Open : Monday to Saturday 10am — 5pm 40 High Street, Glasgow G1
Telephone : 041 553 1990
Exhibiton Sponsored by Design House (Scotland) Ltd. & F.M.MacKinnon & Co Ltd.
58'l‘he List 23 March — 5 April 1990