Into the Groove
Caroline Ednie discusses cubes, Picasso and Madonna with Adrian Wiszniewski.
Adrian Wiszniewski, ‘the dreamy, young poet', one of the ‘Glasgow School‘ of painters to emerge in the 19805, has finally, it seems. succumbed to a touch of PMT (Post Modern Tendencies, that is). Sex and Matisse, his current exhibition at the Glasgow Print Studio sees the artist's familiar repertoire of wistful ﬁgures give way to a bold eclecticism of subjects and styles. And, if the credo of the Post Modern artist is that he parodies the thing he loves, then Wiszniewski’s loves are indeed many.
Sex and Matisse, Wiszniewski claims, was born out of his response to the debate generated by two important cultural events which occurred last year. The first was the Matisse retrospective exhibition in New York and the second was the Madonna book ‘Sex‘. ‘In the folio (a series often prints commissioned by the Glasgow Print Studio) I included the theme of sex. I ﬁnd it such a complicated thing which I couldn't articulate verbally, so I had to do it visually, and it's all there . . . sex, violence and hopefully humour.’
Humour, it seems, is a central element in his current work. ‘l‘m fond of humour in art as it's a good way of communicating,‘ he admits. This presents itself in a series of sculptural and neon pieces of such direct visual and verbal puns, they would make even
Jeff Koons seethe and swivel on his pedestal. ‘Picasso's Balls‘ a neon sign accompanied by two square balls is his ‘irreverant homage’ to Picasso. ‘The great thing about Picasso was his balls,‘ explains Wiszniewski. Could this be the same man who missed Lady Chatterley because he was ‘too self conscious to watch it”?
Gather One, from Sex and hiatisse
‘Coffee and Cream‘ and ‘Sugar Sugar' are playful, sculptural subversions on the cube, the object so beloved ofthe Minimalists. The cube, the artist continues, is not merely used as an obvious, visual pun but it can also be seen in this context as, ‘a potent symbol for the approaching millenium, a simple unit to build upon after
cleaning the slate of history.‘
So has addressing the small matter of the approaching milleniurn become a major consideration of the artist? ‘Well, Matisse and Picasso used their energy as a light for the fin de siecle, and I feel positive about the new rnillenium we‘re moving into.‘ What then cart we expect from Wiszniewski'? ‘Well, I‘ve always used painting but painting itself is so seductive. being historically such an object of desire. Seeing it in gold frames in dead mausoleums castrates the work. So. I feel the best way to communicate in a succinct way now is to work through
neon. line and colour, which is far more immediate.‘
Indeed, colour has replaced the beloved ﬁgure in terms of subject matter. ‘I use colour as the subject matter as there is meaning behind colour and you can play around with these meanings.‘ In this way. earlier ﬁgures ‘Kasmin and Kappo' have now
reinvented themselves as ‘Rosebud‘
and ‘Eight Foot Beanpole‘ in his new repertoire of images. Of his neon obsession, he explains. ‘With neon I get to work in a workshop rather than an artist’s studio, a place which I feel is getting pretty close to being outdated. A painter can almost be too much of a hermit. I don‘t see art as a religious vocation. I see it as something you make a positive contribution to.‘ Whatever Adrian Wiszniewski achieves with Sex and Matisse, and it must be said he does wear his iniluences somewhat unashamedly on his sleeve, it is perhaps heartening to note that, unlike some of his contemporaries currently being lauded, he is willing to take a few risks and challenge his previously dead-cert winning formula in an attempt to open up a new personal dialogue. Adrian Wiszrziewski — Sex and Matisse. Glasgmt' Print Studio. Until Sat 24 July.
The third John Watson Prize has been awarded to Katrina Thomson. Chosen 1 from eighteen works in the 1993 Edinburgh 1 College of Art Degree ‘ show, her work uses Jan I van Eyck‘s The Arnolﬁni Marriage as a starting point. A selection of her paintings will hang in the ' Scottish National Gallery , throughout July. ? Outpost, an organisation 2 which is putting together a ; huge contemporary art exhibition in multiple sites around Edinburgh during the Festival, is looking for artists to take part. Information and 1 application forms are 5 available from Outpost Edinburgh, 6 Alva Place, Edinburgh, EH4 SAE and ' Outpost London, Basement Studio, 6-8 Vestry Street, London N1. , With paintings and prints from £4.99—£I9.99, ‘ a brand new Art 3 Supermarket will open on i Thurs 15 Jul for two ' months in Blackfriars Street. For full details call I 031 228 l538.
_ The Natural
Tribal Memory is a record of the ‘instlnctive knowledge or acknowledgment of natural forces we don’t fully understand.’ Exploring the echoes of Norse mythology in the Danish landscape, Aase Goldsmith, a Scottish-based photographer, returns to the places of her Danish parent’s origins.
Whilst a text is provided to explain the mythological background of the work, I preferred to concentrate on the images themselves and the suggestive sounds of their liordic titles.
The photographs vary from the quiet forest Interiors oi Faelleshaven, to delicate constructions of roots and withered flowerheads, the strongest of which abstract the landscape textures Into compositions reminiscent of runic slate or bone carvings. The desire to give meaning to nature through the intervention of human-created forms recurs throughout, whether in the arrangement of roots as in ilraesvelg,
or the subtle placing of a few threads hung between moss terns in The Quest. Goldsmith’s images are therefore a contemporary complement to the stories of mythic Gods after which many are named.
At its most understated this comparison is brought out through the simple act of framing the landscape within the camera lens, recording encounters with the same natural world which the sagas themselves describe. The adventures of the myths, however, have long since abated in these landscapes as has the
Gnipahellir 111 by A388 Baldwin!
spell of their belief in the modern mind. If such images as, In the Presence of the Forest Gods, feel somehow empty in the presence of their titles it is because Goldsmith’s work records the traces of a memory which for many of us today is new empty. Yet the beauty of these photographs finally leads us, not to the loss of ancient meanings in the landscape, but to the strength of nature’s endurance and the memory inherent in its forms. (Simon Yuill) Aase Goldsmith at the Portfolio until 31 July.
48 The List 16—29 July I993