Fab rag-bag

Beatrice Colin finds humour and diversity in an exhibition celebrating the achievements of graduates from Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.

Dundee is renowned forjam, jute and journalism, but an? Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art graduates have yet to gain the gloss of inherited reputation that Glasgow’s have. So earlier this year, to draw attention to the talent sprouting from the banks ofthe Tay. Director Alan Robb invited graduates from the last ten years to submit work. He chose over 150 and these were shown in four venues around Dundee. The tnost spectacular were a huge wooden griffin by David Mach and a greenhouse installation by Alistair MaeLennan filled with grass and patrolled by the artist.

These works have not been included in the Collins Gallery show for practical reasons, but the 53 pieces selected suggest the distinctive flavour and calibre of the main exhibition. A diverse mixture of sculpture, installation, paintings and photography, the show includes a handful of well-known artists. Two acid- yellow canvases painted as a reponse to the Lockerbie disaster by Keith McIntyre have been shown before at Kelvingrove, and Calum Colvin’s quirky photomontagc. Monument For Bank 1987 is representative of the work which can now be seen on wrapping paper and in shop-window displays.

In other pieces by less well-known artists, the cold and windy city and the silvery river seem to make

themselves known. Works like Ring tor noses by Angus Miller, a sculpture of broken flower pots scrawled with names and sprouting dead roses from the cracks; La Langue de Bois by Helen MacAlister, a mixed—media piece with rolled newspapers, knitted rugby posts and sketched golf clubs, and Derrick Guild’s series of eight small oils Tay Ofrendas, are sombre, occasionally morbid and use, like many other artists here, a palette of grays and muddy browns.

But Dundee is also famous for its sense of humour and elsewhere colour and joviality make a refreshing change. Jim McCutchcon‘s ‘Clitch (speaker—listen), a

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Duncan Mosley: The Inspector's Penchant

zany sculpture based on sound, and Duncan Moseley's canvas, The Inspector's Pena/rant. a humorous but rather distasteful study of perversity. hint at the lighter side of the city.

Women are fairly well represented in this show: a violent splash and slash of colour, Sharon Quigley‘s canvas Fits and Starts bristles with energy. Linda Downie’s strange subterranean child-like figures float in azure backgrounds like distorted ghosts and Caroline Jenkinson‘s Jelli- Babies and scissor imprint montages are spiky and unusual.

This show is a veritable rag-bag no disrespect intended of style, content, medium and experience. an impressive visual flagship for the school. Dundee must be a stimulating place to study.

A Decade of Fine Art: New Work by (iradzattes of Duncan of Jordanstone College ofArt. [982 1902 is at the Collins Gallery. Glasgow. until 6 Mai:

_ Urban Allegories

Michael Jessing used to paint urban life in a singularly grim light. Nowadays, his gloomy streets are ieavened by a colourful, almost magical tlourish.

At first glance, the works are a well- drawn indictment oi the concrete jungle. Ranged in tightly-packed rows the darkened buildings stretch baietully into the sky; our perspective is usually from the claustrophobic street, looking up. You can’t imagine anything living, let alone thriving, in the shadow of all that concrete. Move in closer, though, and you tind a vivid, often surreal pulse beating on the lungle tioor.

Accompanied by an amusineg deadpan explanation, each painting is a dream-like allegory, a story within a

characters seem to drift In from other places and eras, in pursuit ot overlapping storylines. The questions won’t go away: who, what, when and

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i enough to keep you guessing.

troubadour strumming his guitar tor a woman who appears to have danced in trom another dream. What is the link? Are the women rivals? All we are told, oddly, is that the diner is the troubadour’s ’worldly anchor’.

In ’Soul Talk’, a couple stand stiflly apart, hemmed in by the encroaching I tenements. Between them, orange ; butterflies hover. The caption explains i that ’words become souls in the i mouths of lovers’. Against the ready- ' made tragedy of the urban backdrop, their love has a haunting brightness.

Atter a brisk walk through lewington, the exhibition is a 2 welcome reminder of the enchanting, quirky, even sinister side of city lite. Bustling from A to B, we notice mainly : the traffic, air pollution and slow- moving pensioners. We haven’t time to ;

; discern the intense and arcane story. Far tram jarring, the com i mm The faces a", and“ Inst ; dramas that Jesslng depicts with both are curious and engaging, Magus and i wonder and humour. (Carl Honoré)

In ’lllner’, a crowd huddles outside i what looks like a 50s American diner. i In the foreground, a woman in a Seville-style balcony watches a I

Michael Jessing’s Urban Allegories are at the Queen’s llall, Edinburgh, until 28 ', Feb. i

The List 12—25 February 1993 51