: McKeever: ‘Beyond the Pools
Andrew Gibbon Williams celebrates the pioneering work of collector Bryan Montgomery, a kindred spirit of Richard Demarco.
Some are born to make art; some to make art happen. Richard Demarco is one of the latter, having done more than any other individual to put Edinburgh on the international art map, and I am not only referring to the visual arts. Think of Beuys, think of Kantor. think of. . . the list is endless. You probably wouldn’t have heard of them had it not been for Demarco. Despite being passed over for the job of Director ofthe
5 Edinburgh Festival. he is irrepressible.
At the beginning of May, STV broadcast an
" hour-long tribute which focused on his recent
; artistic mission to Hungary. This was followed by g the BBC‘s Excess making good use of his
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enthusiasm to review Glasgow‘s Mayfest exhibitions. Demarco gushes. compliments, ingratiates, cajoles. Artists and punters respond to him.
Cocking a snook at the Festival powers-that-be, Demarco has now brought an excellent private collection to his Edinburgh gallery. It has been put together over the years by Bryan Montgomery, as much a fosterer of new talent in his own way as Demarco. Montgomery is the founder and chairman ofone of the world’s biggest exhibition organising companies, the Andry Montgomery Group, and in amongst the trade fairs for which his
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group is responsible. lurks an impressive number of art events. They include the London and Los Angeles art fairs.
The Montgomery Collection is predominantly post-war abstract. In fact ifyou wanted to enlighten the uninitiated in the course ofabstract
'painting in Britain since 1945. exposure to the
Montgomery collection would be ideal. There is
Kenneth Martin who made his name in the 50s
with a hard-edged. brittle form of abstraction. which harkcd back to avant-garde Russian work of the 205. From the 605 and 70s there are Derek Boshier. Michael Craig-Martin and Kenneth : Noland, who made their names by marrying their preoccupation with the formal concerns of making a pure kind of art - often geometric — with the fun spirit ofthe pop era.
If this sounds rather austere. then let it be said that in recent years especially. Montgomery has developed a taste for the more painterly. Keith Milow figures prominently with both multi-media constructions and sculpture. much of which is liberally coated in pigment. Few artists are less afraid of working up a dense impasto than John Walker. And in Ian McKeever‘s ‘Beyond the Pools‘ a woodland photograph is submerged beneath a torrent of acrylic.
All this supports Montgomery‘s reputation among a select band ofcognoscenti as the very best type of patron: he who is humble enough not to think he knows what he likes until the artist has been allowed to fulfil one of his least often acknowledged functions — that ofeducator.
Pictures for an Exhibition, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 301une.
56The List3l May—13June 1991