Wall Work

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It may be that the name is familiar. but you have no idea what his work is like. Or maybe you have never heard of Lawrence Weiner. but you hear from someone else that he is quite a Big Name. So you go along to the gallery to see his work and find nothing more than one sentence ‘An arch afforded in a wall of stone with a keystone ofehalk & imposts of slate‘ - written across two walls. as well as a series of stickers. bearing the same text. to be posted up entirely at the discretion of those who receive them. Is that it‘.’

True. Lawrence Weiner is not an artist to produce physical objects. and consequently his work like that of many conceptual and minimal artists tends to provoke the kind of predictable. knee-jerk reaction to any work proclaimed as ‘art‘ which bears no obvious trace of technical virtuosity or the artist‘s hand. The crucial thing to bear in mind is that the experience of work like Weiner‘s. where ‘the idea‘ is of great importance. has to be constructed by the viewer. It is not wholly laid out for you by the artist. Just as many

l contemporary sculptors have

rejected traditional materials like marble and bronze. so has Weiner. only he has chosen to use language in

' the construction of his ‘seulptures‘

this is what he calls his text works the works can be compared to a diagram of something which exists elsewhere; real physical materials are referred to in his work the current one uses chalk. stone and slate but, as he once said. he is ‘more interested in the idea of the material than in the material itself.‘ This was not Weiner‘s first visit to Scotland. nor his first one-man show here. But this time the so-called founding father of conceptual art has been brought to Glasgow by Transmission Gallery. giving younger artists an opportunity to work with and meet him. the effect of which is bound to tell on artistic activity in years to come. Lawrence Weiner's stickers are available from Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. until Thurs 31 Dec.

i l l l l i l

(— Class of '91

‘Photography is a very beautiful thing, the artist Ingres is said to have exclaimed in 1839, ‘very beautiful, but one must not admit it.‘ Ever since then, the year that Niepce and Daguerre pioneered photography, there has been heated debate about the medium’s artistic merit, with photographers continuing to complain of prejudice in the art world. Stills's current show of works by graduates reveals how remarkably diverse a discipline photography is, for its scientific precision, its flights of fancy and its technical trickery.

Andrew Johnson's galvanising works are part of an installation based around the experience of miners working in a Welsh colliery, soon to be closed. A gritty, life-sized portrait of a miner with calloused hands, a missing finger and sudden shoes cuts straight to the quick. Sarah Cunningham‘s book, Behind the Front Door, could not be more different it is the story of a young tamin awaiting the birth of a new baby, with text and drawings supplied by the two small children. Without being mawkish or sentimental, it is a moving depiction of pregnancy and motherhood, and of the often neglected feelings of the baby’s anxious siblings.

More in the line of flight-of-fancy, than realism, are works by Rebecca Hooper, Alison Spink and Carol Peacock. Spink’s installation revolves around her complex relationship with her mother: large photographs of both of them are linked by a clothes line on

i which are pinned articles of their

clothing and a number of images which represent Spink’s mother trying on her daughter‘s clothes and boots, looking exasperated, disapproving and,

5 finally, almost at home with the bemusing trappings of youth. Peacock

concentrates on the mechanics of Alice‘s passage through the looking glass, 3 viewing stand inviting the

\‘Vr: can't plan nothm ahead

l'm only 39

Now You're afraid to take a loan out of the bank

If they said to us

"Boys. you've got five years llt'lt', Defrnztt-C

Christ, you can go out. buy a one little tar

You can have a little loan

No Problems about wax-rm; it bark l

A regular wage commin' in

You're Afraid to do it no“?

They told Deep Nmigatron a month ago they had ll\t‘ years

And they closed three \\'L'L‘l\\ alter”

AND THEY TOLD 'I‘lll-LM 'l'lll{\ HAD l:l\'l'. \ l'.-\l{\


You can't trust nothin' they say

Andrew Johnson: from ‘Taff Merthyr Colliery. 1989-1991'

viewer to peer, like Alice, at images of books and ‘Drink Me’ bottles, keyholes and cobwebs. Hooper’s large-scale photographic series, The Garden, is hung in old window frames, giving the viewer the rather uneasy impression of being inside looking out, at shadows of lurking strangers. There is a certain Wild West feeling about the bright sun

and long shadows.

All the works at Stills are worthy of long write-ups (this is, after all, a selection of all of Scotland's 1991 photography graduates) I'll mention two more: the first is lsobelanne Climmie's unsettling sequence of nine images, showing a small section of the sitter's body, and the gesturing of her hands, sometimes straightening out her dress. or pulling at the fabric. The other is a sequence of images by Fiona Drummond, in which a nude, female figure poses on a sofa, contorted into a variety of huddled shapes strikingly remniscent of Francis Bacon. Proof positive, surely, that photography is Art.

Forum: New Scottish Photography from the Class of '91 is at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 11 Jan (closed 23 Dec—7 Jan).

; :- ‘Notfunny

At first glance Jane Lewis appears to

. combine the comically grotesque with

the serene technique of the Northern

Renaissance. This combination of the traditional and the bizarre has been , used before, by various artists from the

Dadaisls to Terry Gilliam. Jane Lewis's

§ work, however, isn’t funny. 0n closer


inspection it becomes apparent that she uses this style to comment on current social issues, from the environment to sexuality. The sombre tones and classical poses are the perfect vehicle for her carefully studied compositions, which concentrate mainly on the cerebral rather than on the emotional.

‘Ship of Fools’ shows a group of seemingly innocent children pouring oil into the sea in a late 20th century version of the painting by Bosch.

Jane Lewis spent part of her childhood in a school for the disabled: her disability was minor a lung

Jane Lewis: Tattoed Self-Portrait

problem and it was there that her talent was discovered and encouraged. The experience was obviously one which has stayed with her. While many of her portraits depict the classically

beautiful, she has also made studies of the deformed, with twisted torsos and decapitated heads. ‘Mausoleum' shows six armless bodies, each spurting blood from the stumps. Although drawn in perfect detail in pencil, there is an underlying sense of

anger and frustration.

Lewis spent a year working as

resident artist with Kent Opera and in

some of her more recent studies, she returns to earlier themes and

: re-interprets them using the mask. 5 Now the deformity is external: i Commedia dell’arte style masks cover

flawless skin with hooked noses, and white chalk make-up gives a surreal quality to otherwise perfect faces. In ‘Tafooed Seli-Portrait’, she explores

' the nature of ieminity and a face is

covered with a layer of wallpaper-like ' flowers and 'r::it in an analogy of how 3 women present themselves to the

outside world. Her work is

thought-provoking and technically excellent, but it also seems a touch too


chilly. (Beatrice Colin) Jane Lewis is at the Collins Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 11 Jan.

The List 20 December 1991 16 January 1992 67