The Britpaek bites back
The t‘ourth British Art Show is proyoking as much controyersy as its predecessors. writes Ann
hen the t‘ourth British Art Show storms into l-idinburgh. it is likely to proyoke many a debate about dead sheep. elephant dung »— atid the meaning oi" art. lleadlined by Damien llirst. bad boy ol' the nation‘s art circuit. it should push the boundaries ol art l'rom the gallery. into Scotland's pubs and liying~rooms.
Like many things artistic. the touring exhibition is open to tabloid-induced controyersy. miseomprehcnsitm and a general slagging lrom critics and public alike. liair enoui—‘h. btit the reports lrom the Manchester trontline where the exhibition began its tour last Noy'ember haye also elicited positiye reponses. The catalogue declares the exhibition as being ‘the most ambitious to date. . . llt’k‘ttsiligl on those whose work has a tnood ol e\perimentation. exuberance and unpredictability.‘
Initiated by \ational 'l'ouring lixhibitions and organised by London's South Batik ('entre. the ﬁrst British .-\rt Show raised ltat‘kles in W7”. when artist and critic William l’acker selected an exhibition dominated by painting and sculpture by ll: artists. The second. in MRS. inyolying ill artists and three selectors. made its ﬁrst Scottish toray to lidinburgh. Number three in
Paul Nesbitt: helped bringthe British Art Show to Scotland
I‘M) spotlighted a new waye ot‘ ‘bubbling under” Britpackers. including I‘M} 'l‘urner l’ri/e-winner Rachel Whiteread and (‘allum lnnes. a lWS 'l'urner shortlister. 'l‘o cap it all. (ilasgow's .\lcl.ellan (ialleries played host to the whole shebang.
So to l‘)‘)5 and a show inyoly'ing lt)() works by 26 artists who caught the attention ot‘ selectors Richard (‘ork. art critic lor llll’ limes. and artists 'l'homas Lawson and Rose l"inn-Kelcey. The show has not only inspired an enthusiastic response l‘rom the public. it has also proy'oked a good dose ot' scepticism t'rom sections oi the media. including The (Juan/ran.
Whether the Scottish public reacts positiycly to the British .-\it Show remains to be seen. ()ne leading Voice in the Glasgow art world at least has draw it the lines ol battle between conceptual art and more traditional artt'ornis.
Director ot (ilasgow Museums and :\rt (ialleries Julian Spalding’s much-publicised about contemporary British art haye reliuelled an on-going debate — weeks bel'ore (ilasgow‘s Modern Art (iallery opens. liarlier this year. Spalding criticised the art profession. saying: ‘I belies e it has lost touch with its public
It has pt'eyettted the showing or many exciting tlcyelopttteiits in modern art: instead the uttering been a diet ot' conceptual art. which I belieye is pretty thin. and. trankly uninteresting'
()n the other side or the t‘enee is British .'\rt Show selector Richard (‘ork. concerned about the prejudice encountered by young British artists challenging traditional artistic mores. ‘In certain quarters it has earned them a great deal ol‘ yilil‘ication. especially in Britain where a knee—jerk condemnation oi challenging new art has tor long been notoriously endemie.’
(‘urator at lidinburgh’s Royal Botanic (iarden. l’aul .\'esbitt was a piyotal loree in eony'incing the South Batik (‘entre that Scotland should be included on the British .'\rt Show tour itinerary. l>elending the work selected tor the exhibition. he says: 'lt is yery much or its time and I'm sure it will strike a chord with people liy ing today the adyantage being that these can respond in a more immediate way to lite with Video. text and photography rather than elaborate painting.’ '
Visual arts director ot‘ the Scottish :\rts ('ouncil and a selector tor the l‘Nt) British .-\rt slttiyy. Andrew \Lttl'll agrees. llc‘ lk‘lchc‘s it is all a matter or making the lean and thinking or art outside the eont'ines ot the traditional mediums ot‘ paint and sculpture. ‘ll‘ only the general public could get oy er the taet that art can come in dilt‘eient t'ormsf enthuses \airn. "l’he show is may similar to going to see an exciting t'ilm. 'l‘hese artists create incredible \ isual images and worlds in which can submerge tlic‘tttsel\es.'
In a linal burst ot' positi\e reeommendation. Nesbltt urges: ‘.-\l‘t is int eyeryonel‘ \Vlsc‘ \\ tit’tls that will hopet'uly induce a t'ew' more hesitant souls to walk through the gallery doors and make tip their ow n minds.
British Art Show
Fast becoming a name on the international circuit. 30-year-old. .-\yrshire-born Borland is Glasgow School ol‘ An trained and had one ot~ her ﬁrst shows at (Glasgost ’l'ramway. Her work is often macabre and more than hints at the darker underbelly of life. Housed in a Portakabin. her li/ttt‘k .tliisemn explores tell-tale signs suggesting the precise time ot'a physical attack. and murder C()\"Ct'-tlp.s'.
Scout's/i National Gallery ()fll’h’lldl'll xtrr.
Adopted by the British Media as its cause eélebre -~ he‘s dubbed the ‘t‘ormaldehyde kid‘ — Damien Hirst. judged by coltnnn inches alone. is certainly at the epicentre of the contemporary art scene. Born in Bristol in 1965. he won last year's Turner Prize. Commenting: ’lt‘s amazing what you can do with an if in A—level an. a twisted imagination and a chain saw.‘ But he's not a one-discipline man. he also works in lilm, and directed Blur's Country House yideo.
Illl‘(’l'l(’lI/I House. Royal Botanic (Ian/en. and the Scottish .\"alional (iallery olillotlt'rn Ari.
Georina Starr .. :
Georgina Starr is into dressing up — she ﬁrst discovered the kick of adopting another persona when she performed in Grease at school. Deﬁnitely quirky. she is curious about identity. reinyenting hersell and recording the outcome on yideo. in A list! 'Io it Small Planet she revisits her childhood memory of watching a Jerry Lewis ﬁlm. l’ainting her lace blue she wears a colander—like headpiece with two curly antennae.
(ﬂy ..'l H ('en/re.
London born. raised and trained, Wiltshire once had a dream about a sotil'tle. which went on to inspire her computer generated work Casanova. metaphor for male potency. Gender. and the symbols ot‘sexuality that go along with it. fascinate Wiltshire. who has collaborated with Helen Chadwick. Feeling that male potency is more widely illustrated. be it in grafﬁti or magazines. Wiltshire is interested in subverting images of maleness and offering alternative views of female potency.
Gillian Wearin . ' ' v '
Birmingham born and London trained, Wearing's work is tired by an interest in what people on the street think. lter work is often socio—documentary in style she stops people randomly. asks them to w rite something down. then photographs the speaker and a written version oftheir words. For ('o/i/ess All On it’ll/6’0. Don "I Worry You Will Be in l)l.\'_g‘lll.\'t’. lniriguezl. ('all (Jillian. she put an ad in London's 'Iinie ()ia magazine. The results are intimate revelations from anonymous speakers wearing latex masks.
Mark Wallin er
A kind of Hogarth ol' the present day, Wallinger. born in 1959 and one of the British An Show's oldest participants. uses satire to make social comment. Shortlisted for last year's Turner Prize. his tour video monitor recordings of the Queen. all gentle smiles and gentle waves at Ascot. lampoons royal convention. Meanwhile his interest in all things equine, from the pantomime horse to the thoroughbred. tickles society's obsession with. bloodlines and breeding.
'l'lie l’ruionarker Gallery.
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