mamma— In the pink

Minimalist artist Spencer Finch has a thing about the hat that Jackie Kennedy wore in Dallas. Robert Montgomery finds out why.

New York artist Spencer Finch has produced a striking Festival exhibition for the Collective Gallery. Finch‘s work is cool and minimal but like his compatriot Felix Gonzalez-Torres his minimalism smuggles in social and historical meaning. The main gallery is dominated by the installation of l()() drawings. each a slightly different colour of pink. stretched round the space in a single line. This piece is called Trying to Remember the Colour


afJae/tie Kennedy '3‘ Pill/mt Hat and records Finch's attempts to recall the

' exact hue ofthe fateful first lady's hat.

The hat. of course. is the one she wore in Dallas the day JFK got shot. The pinks vary drastically. and Finch‘s attempts to recapture a detail of the moment becomes an essay on the discrepancies in our process of


There is an awareness in Finch‘s work that we tend to experience ‘world events' in reproduction. and that this creates an image bank. a kind of collective memory which he draws on very poignantly. In the Project Room. Finch presents only a single 3cm x 3cm square of light blue. This is the colour of the sky at the exact point where the Challenger Shuttle exploded. calculated using still photographs and a ‘prccision siting device' of the kind used by NASA. The blue looks innocuous at first but it subtly contains the memory of the catastrophe.

Abstract painting attempts to transcend narrative. Finch‘s economy of form places him in relation to w hat he calls ‘tbe grand old monochrome tradition' in American painting. His work is cool but it is not abstract because the horrors of history are always there. somewhere in the background. like a childhood trauma. Spent‘er Fine/I at lllt’ Caller/ire Gallery until 2 Sept

harem:- House of lgic

Artist Alan Johnston at work

- The cool, sunlit rooms in lnverleith

House offer a welcome break from the Festival’s frenetic atmosphere and are

the specially chosen site for an

exhibition of two-dimensional works

by internationally regarded Scottish

_ : artist, Alan Johnston.

. Last year Alan Johnston held an

Z exhibition in the Wittgenstein ilaus in

Vienna, named after the radical

, Austrian philosopher. His work at

§|nver|eith House is specifically made

ifor the space and draws an analogy between both buildings which are

. ‘simple designs and utilisations of


: Johnston’s work is pretty cerebral

l stuff and not instantly accessible. It

.takes more than a cursory glance

, before you notice the borders of

i delicater drawn pencil marks on

; white gesso which are barely visible

! from a distance. Close up, the variety

in pressure in the delicate tracery of

lines appears to make the surface undulate. The mixture of charcoal and beeswax rubbed into the linen background creates definition, edges and panels making the whole more focused. ‘I’m playing with spacial perception and tactility,’ says Johnston. ‘I’m interested in the slight movements in visual perception and a visual ambivalence that draws you into an engagement with the space.’ Johnston’s work has a contemplative quality in its clean, uncluttered formality, reminiscent of tranquil Japanese gardens. Although he regularly commutes to Japan for work,

' Johnston is adamant he has never

been influenced by Zen. ‘There’s a

' reflective tradition in Japan which I

think is very Scottish because it’s

. about touch and sensibility,’ he says.

(Gill Roth) Alan Johnston, Royal Botanic Gardens until 30 Sept.


Four unmissible shows to look out for this Festival

I Hidden Assets ()ne of the most comprehensive private collections of Scottish art including paintings by l’eploe. Blackadder and Redpatb as well as contemporary work from Currie. llowson and Conroy. National Gallery af'Si‘nt/antl until 24 September: I John Bellany: New Paintings and Print Retrospective A chance to see Bellany's stunning yet lesser known printed work as well as a selection of new paintings. 'Iallmt Rive Gallery until [0 Sept.

I Wolfgang Tillmans Bridging the gap between fashion and line art photography. Tillmans takes portraits of his contemporaries in clubs. in their llats orjust hanging out. Strong. absorbing work. Stills Gallery until 23 Sept.

I From London Bacon. Kitaj. Kossoff. Andrews and Freud adorn the walls of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Strident. powerful painting (ends 5 Sept). Whilst you're there. don't miss the recently acquired Dada and Surrealist Masterpieces from the Penrose Collection. St‘tt/llS/l Natianal Gallery altitude/“n A rt.

HIS BEEN BillellllSlEll.

The List 25 Aug-7 Sept [995 65