No one would raise an eyebrow on discovering that Peter Howson’s work hangs on such prestigious walls as Madonna and Sylvester Stallone's white-washed ur! spaces. However, for the majority of graduates the fruit of four years toil is more than likely to hang on their mum and dads living- roorn wall alongside the ﬂying ducks.
But for a lucky tiny percentage there is the wealthy individual with a soft spot for impoverished artists or more likely. representatives from the main galleries bearing cheque-books and promises.
David Solomon. the joint owner of East-West Gallery in London is an enthusiastic individual who makes a point of touring the graduation shows in Glasgow. Dundee and Edinburgh annually. Though last year he failed to find ‘anyone we particularly responded to‘. he was the ﬁrst to pick up on Jenny Saville and successfully exhibited Paul McPhail‘s ﬁrst solo show.
The William Jackson Gallery in London also favours many contemporary Scottish artists and names like Alison Watt. Barbara Rae and John Bellany have graced the walls in recent years. Jackson. like many of the gallery owners tends to be predisposed to figurative and narrative works. choosing his artists on the merit of ‘gut reaction‘ rather than academic wafﬂe. He says, ‘I want artists with integrity, vision and a passion for their work.‘
Despite theirjoint enthusiasm for contemporary artists. both Solomon and Jackson voice their reluctance to sign artists on the basis of their degree shows. ‘While people at art school can stand out among their contemporaries.’ says Solomon. ‘most painters don't achieve any maturity until ten or fifteen years later.‘
Contrary to popular belief. Glasgow School of Art is not thought of as top- dog anymore. Both dealers commented on the ‘transitional phase‘ it seems to be going through at the moment. In fact Dundee was cited by the live galleries questioned as being the hotbed of artistic activity. due apparently to an inspirational Head and the financial resources at its disposal.
For the cream of the crop who do manage to impress a gallery owner there lies ahead the murky business of contracts and cash. The general consensus is that a gallery takes 50 per cent commission on any sold works. but both Solomon and Jackson assert the element of goodwill and trust that must exist between the two bodies. ‘Basically.’ says Solomon. ‘you can write it down on paper but the reality is one of mutual advantage.‘
Unfortunately the statistics for Art school graduates make for depressing reading with only two people out of any one year still working seriously ﬁve years down the road. Don't hold your breath for the man from Saatchi to descend with a smile and a blank cheque book. (Ann Donald)
Our Father’s Chair and Tattoo (detail) by Johann Logan (Drawing and Painting). With the palette ot Bowie. logan’s routed ﬁgurative paintings deal with the recurrent the-re oi the death ot her parents and her childhood memories.
A page iron The Rector of Skittey. a short boolt by lloss Collins (Illustration). This stall book tellsthesadtale ots liectorwho many with the clrcus. Collins recentty won first price in the ﬂecltlllan’s Children's Boolr conpetltlon with The Seahole.
berts (Illustration). Roberts’s loose expressive style has graced the cover of The Big Issue in recent months.
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A piece by Louise Todd (Sculpture). inspired by Alan Davie and mm de Saint Phalle. this artist's use of mirrors. curtain (ringing and papier maché is bright. witty and tun.
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a ’ ~‘ ' I Untitled by Yngrrild llergaard (Drawing and Painting). In sweeps ot searing yellows and washes of plnlt 3rd blue. huge abstracts are detailed with snail rhwings ot a chilrliood toy and a dolls' house.
56 The List l7—3O June 1994