Acne can be a beautiful experience, writes Miranda France, after visiting A Blemish on the Text.
he and she deﬁnitely erupt
they never do
says David Hopkins thoughtfully.
He has just finished shaving before an appreciative audience at the Stills photographers gallery — well you know artists. anything goes. Hopkins is a performance poet, beside him Alexa Wright, also a performer and an artist, is brushing her hair.and muttering ‘a volcano, an eruption. a volcano. an eruption.‘ Artist and poet have been working together for a number ofyears now, during which time they have developed a fascination with skin. The upshot is ostensibly a mysterious and rather beautiful show in which layers of fibrous gold and green textures are projected onto the wall. On a deeper level it is a philosophical discourse on the nature ofskins, human and material.
For a Blemish on the Text the gallery had to be transformed into a darkroom. Five large amorphous black and white photographic images were developed actually on the walls themselves, and these have been laced with segments of Hopkins‘s text. On to each of the shapes a spotlight beams images — or eruptions, depending on how far you want to take the metaphor. Three of these are static; ofthe other two, one is a changing melliﬂuous swirl of tissues, skeins and amoeba-like shapes that seem to be observed
through a microscope. The other projector beams close-ups of tangible objects, inviting the viewer to mull over the different surfaces.
this is how the world will end notwith a bang but a pimple
There are shiny, boiled sweets, ﬂowers, soft toys, garden gnomes and all sorts of kitsch, interspersed with fragments of Hopkins’s poem ‘The Spot’:
this is how the world will end
not with a bang
but a pimple
Behind the philosophy there lurks a sense of humour. In one corner of the gallery bathroom plugs have been set into a false floor. Lift out
crooning—out 5, without voice
red, purplish, full of matter all matter and so little substance
M“! PM“! I'm at one with myself
My a body.
Untitled. from A Blemish on the Text.
the plugs, and a different soundtrack emits from each hole. One is an essay on the benefits of storing National Health files on computer. another a sports report and another a poem. There are instructions on how to tie a shoelace in one plug-hole and on how to knit a jumper in another. One recording is ofa man repeating ‘I refuse to shut up‘. The best thing about this innovative, aural experiment is that you have to lie down flat on the ﬂoor with your ear glued to the hole to hear the recordings. which has a sort of levelling effect on those assembled for the first night. at any rate. Is this the kind ofthing David Mellor might end up doing? It would be worth paying to see.
A Blemish on the Text is at Stills until IAug.
_‘ Soft- arted bruisers
Ray Richardson at Glasgow Print Studio until July 1992.
Lampooning is as old as the hills. it’s our way of puncturing the sinister, of cutting the unknown down to size. Why else do we poke fun at death and disease? And why else are caricatures of working class toughs so popular in the art world?
You’ve seen them before. Thick- necked men with meaty hands perform unmistakeably proletarian acts: drinking by day, brawling, shouting, nursing hangovers. Ken Currie had them raising their lists for world revolution; Peter Howson examines LtheIr bruised glory up close. Ray
Bottleiob, etching, 1992
Richardson paints them in their vie quofldlenne.
Each work comes with a punchline label and a built-in story that isn’t always easily discernible. Beer for Breakfast is emblematic. A huge hairy man with cropped hair and a big gut lounges on a blue carpet beside a tree
in a park. Everything is exaggerated: his eyes and his fag are ridiculously small; his forearms and nose larger than life. Nasty, brutish and fat, the man still looks almost tender.
This is wistful art. When did you last walk into a rough pub, look at the scarred, beefy faces and think: ‘These men are all cuddly victims of a social system gone haywire’? Richardson fashions their naked cruelty into safe wall-hangings for middle class homes.
Probably, there is nothing wrong with that. And at least he does it with flair. All his paintings and etchings are clever, pleasing and often moving. You can look at them for ages, trying to punle out the storyline, or duck behind the rugged faces for a closer look. Very much bound up in the south-east of London, Richardson is at home anywhere. Every town must sometimes laugh at its dim-wilted bruisers. (Carl Honore)
Ray Richardson is at Glasgow Print Studio until Sat 25 Jul.
.. , l \ /.\
I The National Galleries of Scotland have published a report appraising possible sites for a new Gallery of Scottish Art and l listory in l‘idinburgh and (ilasgow. The report. produced by l’ieda liconomic and l)e\'elopiiieiit Consultants. suggests that the best site for such a gallery may be either at Kelvingrovc or the Sheriff (‘ourt in Glasgow. But l’ieda particularly recommended that the Secretary of State for Scotland be prevailed upon to upgrade the Royal Scottish Academy as a centre for exhibitions. adding that ‘the physical dilapidation and under- utilisalion of the RSA building is the major weakness in the NUS estate‘. l’ieda found proportionately little of the NOS permanent collection on show, compared to other galleries. and that a high proportion of people visiting the galleries combine their visit with other activities in the city centre. Their findings will certainly count against the removal of Scottish art to a previously proposed site opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, on Edinburgh‘s periphery. I Glasgow Museums is to mount a series ofsurvey exhibitions under the title Scottish Art Now in the run up to the opening of the new Modern Art Gallery in 1996. The intention is to show lesser-known artists alongside leading ones, and artists resident in Scotland. or Scots living abroad. are invited to submit works for consideration. Send slides to Glasgow Art Museum. Kelvingrove, G3 8AG.
V IN PRINT
r": r m lArchitect’s Choice. Art and Architecture in Great Britain slnce1945 Eugene Rosenberg and Richard Cork (Thames and Hudson,£l6.95). A rather subjective survey of the role of art in ad irning, complementing or making the most of some of the most dreadful
architecture the cm vtry has ever seen (not Rosenberg‘s opinio v. There are some nea I uplifting examples o.
work by Paolozzi. Moore. Riley, Frink, Gormlcy and others. in fact famous artists and sculptors abound. But not even the bravest artwork can inject soul into a 605 council estate or university campus.
The List l7—30July 1992 45