Rogue gallery

As Glasgow".s much- antieipated Gallery 01‘

Modern Art flings open its.

doors. Susanna Beaumont is dismayed by what she sees.

You would he t‘orgiyeii tor thinking you'd sttimhled into a nightelith. The walls of the loyei' are eoated ill a sea of lt‘dglllellle'tl mirrored glass. \o had thing. eluhs are l'reqtiently stylish and yistially dy iiamie otitl‘its. Yet this is Glasgow is (iallet’y ol' .\lodet'ti .-\t't t(}().\l.-\i and on the w hole it's seriously short on dynamism.

.’\lter months ol eoiiti'oy ersy and speetilatioii. (ilasgow 's lirst gallery deyoted to a permanent display or tiioderii art has opened. llotised iii the l'L‘thtllpCtl Sterling‘s l.ihrary .iitst oll (ieoi‘ge Square at a eost ol' oy‘ei' £7 itiillioii. it is a rare phenomenon these days: a new. eouneil (t‘unded gallery tilled with modern art, Yet the spaee tar l'rom linished at the press \ iew two days hetore its ptihlie opening. with men iii hard hats still at work and many artworks unwrapped - smaeks oi a squandered opportunity.

The (.iallel'} ()l Modern .-\t‘t is a dream made real l'or .luliaii Spaldiiig. direetor oli(ilasgow .\ltisetitits. ‘l'he di'iy‘ing l‘oree heliind the gallery‘s ei'eatioii. Spalding has loiig deelared that (it).\l.-\ was to he a dil’l‘ereiit sort ol' gallery. l‘ei'y'ently pitted against a slay ish adhereiiee to the etilt oi the ay'atit-garde and what he deserihes as eon art. Spalding‘s aim was to show art ‘had something to say". hy showing the work of eonteiiiporai'y artists t'rom Seotlaiid. litirope and non-Western ettlttires. Now (it ).\l;\ has opened. Spalding's yiews are liteially on display. it doesn‘t make lt‘l‘ good yiewing.

()n show in itilll' galleries. eaeh named alter one of the elements earth. air. lire and water. area hoteh potelt ot' artworks. Bridget Riley's \ ihrant ()p .-\i1 paintings look good in the white and appropriater airy Air gallery. All stripes and hold eolour. they sing. But ('raigie Aitehison's ('riit'i/iti'mi. a painting of melaneholie intensity. is

Hanging under question: Ken Currie‘s Bathers is on show in GOMA’s Earth Gallery E


shown no tay‘otu‘s. l’laeed heliiiid one of the .-\ir gallery‘s eoluiiins. it has to iostle for attention and doesn’t get it. in the saute gallery are paintings without names tlahelling was incomplete at the press \ iew l. htit one doesn't iittieh eare heeause many are iiidiltei'ent.

lit the \Vater gallery. a l.'-shaped spaee. hanging has again gone awry. Here is Spalding‘s eoiiiiiiissioited litte-

up t'i'oni Beryl ('ook. ls’eeeiy ing lengthy

eoltimn inehes in the press w hen news (it their ptii'ehase was reyealed and to he l‘ot‘eyei‘ equated with Spaldiiig‘s poptilai'ist leanings. the paintings are not that had 'l‘hey are perhaps art's eqtiiyaleiit to t‘ttllllttl'l eating. Yet within steps ol‘ these large loyelies are

.lane l{\elyn Atwood's photographs of a

wry ill and emaeiated .v\ll)S patient. and sell-portraits hy .lo Spenee. who died ol‘hreast eatieet'. It‘s not that the gallei'y—goer Ctllld grapple with stark lit-e realities. or that y'astly dillerent genres eaii‘t he litiiig iii the same gallery. But this is hlatantly insensitiy'e hanging the works simply don‘t haye spaee to hreath.

Andy (ioldswortliys eaked and ei'aeked red elay t’looi' dug ti'om l)tiiiil‘riesshire also gets a poor showing. The thing. apparently. ahotit (‘toldwoithy ‘s work. is that it sltotild he eneireled. htit it is eordoned-ol‘l' in an awkward eoi'nei' w here you don‘t get 3 the ehanee. .-\lan l)a\ ie’s large.

esuherant eollages oi eolotii'. how ey'ei‘. hold their own titti'thei‘ along in the Water gallery. heeause they hay e spaee

to do so.


V K; - who“... 3‘“


A matter of taste: John Bellany’s Journey To the End Of The Night

Admittedly eonyerting what was originally an IXth eentttry mansion aitd later (ilasgow’s Royal lisehaiige. \\ ith its residual (‘orinthian eoltimiis and

marhled walls. into a gallery was hound

to he prohleiiiatie. Yet the spaee is not so mueh at fault it has made possihle l‘otir interesting and yaried e\hihition areas. The pi'ohleiit is more the rapid iiiood-swings hrought on hy Viewing a sehi/ophrenie and. quality —w ise. al|~ oyer-the—shop eolleetion ol‘ art.

In the ground-floor liai'th gallery with its eol‘l'ei‘ed harrel-y aitlted eeiling and yast eolumns. paintings are htiiig on diagonally positioned pliiitlis or stone

Beryl Cook’s paintings are perhaps art’s equivalent to comfort-eating. Yet within steps of these large lovelies are Jane Evelyn Atwood’s photographs of a very ill and emaciated AIDS patient.

and steel. Here are hig paintings hy llow son. Bellany and Currie. But once again these large l'igtii'atiye works are

jarred hy the eheek hy iowl hanging ol'

photographs hy Sehastiao Salgado of refugees and sheer taekiiiess in the form ol' paintings hy .'\le.\'ander (iuy. ()nly Adrian \\-'is/iiiewski it seems. with his hoisterotis llooi'to-eeiling deeoration ot. the root-top eal‘e. gets a good showing.

It's an irony in (ilasgow‘s Year ol' \'isual .-\rts. solid eyidenee ol‘ the eity"s determined poliey or cultural expansion. that the Gallery Of Modern .-\rt has tailed to .sereaiii out the eity‘s ei'eatiye dynamism. The press release. handed otit at the press \ iew. speaks ol' (.3( ).\l.-\ emphasising (ilasgow 's ‘etilttiral renaissanee'. 'l'i'iie. (ilasgow is etirrently one ol‘ Britain‘s most vibrant eentres ol' artistie aetiy ity. Yet work hy' the likes ol~ internationally aeelaiitted Seotland-lxised artists like Douglas (Bordon. J'ulie Roherts and ('hi'istine Borland or ('alluiit limes. shortlisted for last year‘s 'l‘tirner Prize. is ttot on show. It‘s pushing it a hit. as the press release in question does. to eall llowson and (‘urrie ~ hoth in their late 30s young artists on the Seottish seene. They made their names iii the 80s.

Spalding's essay .-\H /"m' iii/IF Periplt’. printed in the gallery's eatalogue.

w hieh in title alone seems a throw haek

to a eross hetween l‘lth eenttii'y paternalism and philanthropy. is an unashamedly personal \ iew ol' modern art. Yet this \ iew has dietated the make-up ot' the Gallery ()t' .‘yloderii An. ll‘. attaekiiig the modern art estahlishiiient he in turn has sCl'YL‘tl tip his own Vision. To a degree C\'Cl'}' gallery eurator presents what they l‘ayotir. htit Spalding has not managed to early it oil. It is not just a ease oi whieh artists haye heeii lelt out. Spaldiiig. adiiiirahly in many ways. was otit to present an altei'iiatiy e \ iew. lle pi'oelaitits hitiiselt to he a radieal. lii many ways he is. He‘s sntihhed usual gallery-hanging eoiiyentioii and therel‘ore the art world status qtio. and shown a diy'erse _itt\taposiltoti oi artworks. Spaldiiig is perhaps alter the theme park y‘tllll—sllom‘lllgl-lllttll -sty Ie ol~ art gallet'}. (}().\l.-\ tires at the \ iew er a rapid hlast oi' yisual stimulation. Yet the artworks themsely'es aren't tip to it. The eolleetion is iiieohei'eiit and untoetised and. iii the main. had. There are some good moments and perhaps in time and with a i'e-hang. a elearer dii‘eetioii will heeome apparent. lliit at present. there is no rhyme or reason to what is on show or how it is show n. One is lelt l‘eeling da/ed. eoiil'tised and deeply tttts‘alisl‘ietl.

Spalding wants the Gallery ()l‘ Modern .'\l'l to he ‘genuinely popular. not narrowly elitist' and oeeupying a prime eenti'al loeation it will hopefully ptill iii the erowds. llowey'ei' an art gallery tor any people shouldn't he seeoiid rate.

The (litl/lt’l‘l' ()I .l/oz/H'Ii .-\I‘/. (i/usgmr is open .llmt I’m" Intuit-Spin. Sun Hum- Spill. .vli/niissiun is tree.

Under tire: Julian Spaldlng

56 The List 5- l 8 Apr I996