France investigates.

Rising star

A year after he left art school, Craig ; Mulholland is already being billed as i one of the country’s most exciting ; young artists. What lurks behind his ! bizarre mingling of styles? Miranda

You can almost smell the sense ofexpectation at Compass Gallery. Craig Mulholland is 23, a year out ofart school. and the new darling of the art world. Cyril Gerber, who runs Compass and has developed a mighty reputation for talent-spotting, says he cannot remember ever having offered a solo show to such a young artist. The gallery has been overwhelmed by the curious, and the wealthy looking for a good deal; two buyers even flew up from London to see Mulholland‘s show simply on the strength ofworks shown at the Islington Art Fair. So how did it happen? How do you know when someone‘s going to make it big? ; The first impression his painting makes is of a i fusion of Rembrandt and Bacon. Mulholland has conscientiously imitated more than Rembrandt's technique: in several instances the figure appears actually to have been lifted. costume and all, out of a Rembrandt painting. but there‘s a good deal of I trickery going on too. The women’s tight-bodiced l costumes with aprons and flowing skirts are artistic parodies of Rembrandt or Goya. On closer inspection a eourtier in doublet could just be

Mulholland in a polo-neck. Then there‘s the Bacon input: though the figures have solid. ruddy faces and torsos. their lower bodies either peter out to nothing or are violently amputated.

Where exactly is Mulholland to be found in this curious coincidence of styles? Add to the Rembrandt portraiture and the Bacon amputation a third, mysterious element and you begin to get the picture; in every one of his portraits.

such an impression.


Mulholland distracts his viewer from the figure with industrial symbols. Often this is a fan, hanging above the figure’s head or in front of his petering-out torso. But there are also funny stencilled symbols, like the ‘gents’ and ‘ladies' off toilet doors, a traffic light green man or a road sign. The effect of these small urban details is grating; it‘s almost as if the artist is making a cynical attempt to debunk the viewer‘s appreciation of his own skill. The fact that his titles seem to bear no relation to the paintings reinforces

‘9 vfiggv

Heart Monitoridetail): the "emission ‘iéea

fusion of Rembrandt and Bacon

Whatever propels Mulholland, and he admits that he isn't entirely sure what it is. his ‘message’ is sustained and intriguing. There are paintings here, especially non-figurative ones, that seem much less important to his development. There is also a strong presence ofvoices past that might threaten to muffle his own voice. But there is undeniable and intoxicating talent here. In ten years‘ time Mulholland could be a giant.

Craig Mulholland ’s new works are at the Compass Gallery until 24 Sept.

_ Nation state of mind

James Lumsden’s latest exhibition deals with nationalism. Nothing unusual in that tor a Scot in the current political climate, but Lumsden’s paintings and charcoals are not all lions’ rampant and crosses at St Andrew. Far irom it.

The title at the exhibition, Dilemma,

gives a clue; lor Lumsden is torn between an appreciation oi the positive aspects oi nationalism and a revulsion at its possible consequences. ‘I’m lor independence, and regions getting independence, and letting people govern themselves but there is a darker side to it,’ he says. ‘The work is meant to show my own ieelings as a Scot and Scottish nationalist, but one who doesn’t like nationalism.’

Lumsden has chosen the motil oi the flag to get his message across. The vivid colours oiten chosen by the new nations at the lonner Soviet Union or Yugoslavia are set against a dark,

almost war-torn sky. The thirty, loot-square paintings are hung in rows at ten to create a poweriul, colourlul, but menacing overall image. ‘lt’s primarily about the attraction and repulsion oi ilags,’ says Lumsden. ‘Thlngs have been done in the name at ilags: they become a symbol and people will light and die tor a flag. It just becomes dehumanlsing.’ Contrasting with the vivid colours of the flag pictures is a triptych in charcoal also dealing with the Janus-like nature at nationalism. ‘The central image is the landscape -the starting point tor ideas of nationhood,’


explains the artist. ‘Then the other two pictures are like the positive or negative aspects. But even in the positive one, which depicts a llowering oi nationalism, there's an underlying pessimism. Like there is in all my work, I suppose. Most oi the work is about tears of what is happening; and the dilemma is that I’m really in iavour of what is happening at home but have a fear about what is going on in Eastern Europe.’ (Philip Parr)

Dilemma is at the Citizens Studios, Edinburgh from Saturday 12 September until 3 October.

The List 11— 24 September 1992 47