Ian McCulloch won a competition to paint a series of murals for the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. Councillor Pat Lally demanded that they be removed a year later. How with a new show featuring paintings and woodcuts, McCulloch speaks about the effect the whole event had on his
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preserve the paintings in the Concert Hall, I found it very difficult to work in the studio. So I retreated to the shed and began to make woodcuts. When the news came through finally that the Glasgow paintings were to be removed, I was actually having an exhibition in the City Art Gallery in Aberdeen. And while I was there, Peacock Printmakers invited me to edition the woodcuts I’d just made in the shed. The bulk of this work arises from my feelings of frustration at that time. What I was doing was transferring the emotional power of one situation into another situation. 0n the other hand, the subject matter of the woodcuts and the intention behind them is really quite different.
‘I think confidence in an artist is a very fragile commodity. You can be very easily knocked off. I think the sad thing was not the actions of one politician but that there were no forces within Scottish society to stand up to the situation. All the cultural organisations were found to be made of straw, they didn’t have the will or the muscle to change anything. That is still the situation.
‘But this is history and I’m moving on now and the making of the prints was cathartic for me. The subject matter is not all that different. In one of the scenes I’ve returned to the legend of Agamemnon and Helen of Troy. The subject is really a morality tale and makes the point that evil will eventually catch up with you. Another of the pieces is called Adam and Eve with Severed Tree Trunk and that is about choice and knowledge, and involves the reverberation of our treatment of the environment.
‘lnitlaily the whole incident dented my confidence to work on large-scale paintings. This exhibition I’m having is the first major showings of paintings
since then, so I think I’m getting back into it now.’ (Beatrice Colin)
Ian McCulloch will be exhibiting at the Collins Gallery from Sat 24 Sept-22 Oct.
58 The List 23 September-6 October I994
V IN THE FRAME
‘lluring 1991, when l was fighting to
Seduced by the sultry strains of the rive gauche, French-born, New York-
5 based sculptor Alain Kirili ' explains to Ann Donald
why jazz is essential
Jazz has inspired generations of artists. dancers and musicians to experiment with the abstract idea of ‘free-form improvisation’ with such disparate results as Jackson Pollock‘s drip
‘ - paintings. derived from listening to ' Charlie Parker's staccato rhythms day . and night. to the occasionally suspect
steps of free-form jazz dancers in black polo-necks.
‘I need jazz for a sense of my own survival.’
However, New York-based sculptor Alain Kirili's exhibition Open Form Sculpture offers an inspiring and celebratory take on the much— misinterpreted concept. Lured from his native France in the mid-70s by a desire ‘to know the country ofCharlie Parker’, Kirili has straddled the art worlds of both countries with sculpture that makes reference to everyone from Picasso. Rodin and Giacometti to David Smith. Barnett Newman and De Kooning on the other side of the Atlantic.
As Kirili explains down the phone from New York. at the crux of his work is a searing love ofjazz music. “I need jazz for a sense of my own survival. I came to New York not only because I
was inﬂuenced by the notion of improvisation which exists so strongly in the visual arts of abstract expressionism. but by living here I could really reconnect myself with this notion of excess that I feel encouraged by. listening to jazz.’ A notion of excess. incidentally. that he also found in reading Irvine Welsh's ‘inspiring novels'.
Works like Spirit OfMingus and Noni/Sud capture this sense of rhythm perfectly. In the former piece. scrap metal has been fashioned into balletic and recognisably musical shapes balanced on plinths. The plinths could be interpreted as being the bass/base line, while the free-ﬂowing sculptures on top veer off into their own musical variations. The overall feeling. as viewers weave their way through the scattered pieces. is one of being part of the whole score. Nm‘rl/Surl borrows its title from a defunct line on the Paris Metro once used by the artistic
community of Montmartre to transport them to the hotbed ofjazz life in Montparnasse. These roughly hewn blocks ofgranitc. that appear to have dropped from space. have been painted bright orange and placed on a series of sturdy iron tubes arranged strategically around the an space to symbolise the spatial rhythms of sound.
Kirili has also embraced the Hebrew language and its sculptural qualities in a series of works titled C(mmumdment
as well as a recent and smaller terracotta series called Chartres which
celebrates the inherent sexuality of jazz. He ends with a summary of his musical inspiration saying, ‘Jazz is like the deep instinct that is alive in this part of the world that is generally very puritanical. Jazz is the open window where a certain exchange and sexual notion ofcreation is expressed.‘
Open Form Sculpture is at The Talbot Rice Gallery until 6 Nov.
:— Full Kilter
They look like Pam Hogg accessories. Aline of sporrans in shocking pink. tIext, after you’ve battled through the fun-foam cabers, a flurry of petticoat kilts, huddled on a wall looking like a ceilidh at full tilt. Wha-heyy! But there’s something more serious coming through the rye. A body, the Scotch body to be precise.
Unlike so many Scottish artists of the past ten years, Karen Henderson is not obsessed with the querulous nature of Scottish nationalism. Her previous work has dealt with gender identities, and primarily with the role of clothes in acting out those identities. Scotch focuses on that famous item of manly Scottish attire, the kilt. It’s an item that sits flrrnly within our home-spun machlsmo through its association with Black Watch soldiers, football fans and the Highland Games - caber- tossing being the most manly of kilted activities. But to many foreigners, and to the inventive delight of Jean-Paul
Gaultier, we are nothing other than a
nation of men in skirts. Henderson’s installation probes the question: exactly what insecurities does a Scotsman hide beneath his kilt?
The plastic and often highly artificial materials used in the work point to the artificiality inherent in so much of the
.way Scottish culture is packaged.
Even the modern kilt itself, was the brainchild of an English industrialist. Having worked a great deal recently in llew York, Henderson’s attitude is
Sporrans by Karen Henderson
refreshingly international. Hopefully the days of the tartan paint brigade are firmly behind us but, with the exception of Maud Sulter, few have attempted to rectify the narrow views of Scottish identity that Currie, Colvin and the like have simply reinforced. (Simon Yuilll
Scotch is at the Collective Gallery until Satl Oct.