170TH ANNUAL EXHIBITION
Row/i .S'i'rrllis/I .Ii‘iii/cniv. lir/ilibiirg/I until .8111 6 Jill.
Once again the RSA‘s Annual Exhibition is a fun fair of an art show Works by established professionals and dabbling amateurs hang side by side in this mammoth and seemingly timeless Ltt'l c\li‘;t\‘;tg.ttt/a.
Almost anything and ev ei'ything goes as long as it falls into the categories of painting. sculpture. architectural design or printmaking. So don't go expecting any lllll()\';lll\c‘ artworks. Predictably. the majority of works are female nudes, and the paintings which overwhelm are
At the waterfront: Beach Ball by Edinburgh artist Stphen Mangan
a boggling hodge-podge of styles. where the odd sparkling Leon Morrocco or Alex Campbell drowns in the chaos of landscapes and still lifes.
The RSA show seems to exist for the pleasure of the hordes of artists for many of whom this is a one-off chance to exhibit at the Academy. If you have the patience to trawl through the 398 works on show. this yearly feast can be a banquet from which to choose a few personal favourites. But for those with a low tolerance threshold it can be a gallery-goer's worst nightmare. As one elderly lady commented as she made her way past The Hypiii'liondriiii‘. ‘There’s a good mixture of work here but I think it tnust be more fun doing them than looking at them.‘ (Tanya Stephan)
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City Art Centre, Edinburgh until Sat 29 June.
Artists enjoy quoting from past masters to reinforce their own view of the changing world, like musicians sampling their favourite record refrains. The eight contemporary British painters exhibiting in The Borrowed Image, have been inspired by established masterpieces to question how today’s ceaseless mass media has reduced artistic impact and eroded meaning.
Sometimes comical, at other times
Italian line-up: Marcus Coates’ Florentine Triptych, a haunting photographic marriage of Renaissance female portraiture with the
contemporary male nude
sinister, but always provocative, these artists explore the nature of originality and attitudes towards morality, religion and gender. Marcus Coates creates subversive photographs of almost mythical beasts, superimposing the female heads of portraits by Van Eyck and Cranach onto his own clay-coated torso. Veronica Slater defines the conflict between her feminism and Catholic rituals by reinterpreting Michelangelo’s Entombment.
lnverness-born Martin Fraser has cruelly ripped Masaccio’s Adam away from Eve, exiling them literally from Eden, and placing them in vulnerable isolation. Glasgow’s Ian Hughes has taken nightmarish visions from Goya and Cericault’s Raft Of The Medusa and shattered them like glass, making them bleed crimson from the collaged cracks, Yet, within this brutality, our senses are numbed by over- familiarity, the original impact lost.
The inconsistencies of art’s commercial exploitation finds a focus in the wry work of David Godbold. Here Popeye slugs it out with Picasso and the dog from His Master’s Voice listens not to music but sits in on a crucified Christ. That juxtaposition of kitsch and high art underlines our diminished powers of interpretation.
The past is a treasure trove of images ready to plunder but, ironically in anage of mass communication, traditional art has lost some of its potency. From these disturbing, hybrid creations, we are offered a new visual evolution of the borrowed. (Paul Smith)
TRUTNS AND FICTIONS
Street level, Glasgow until Sat 1 June.
The world of documentary photography is littered with assumptions - objectivity, truth and ‘the faithful portrayal of reality’ being just three of them. For the consumer, this always equalled poor judgement and new technology - notably the digital manipulation of images. In Truths and Fictions at Street level, photographer Pedro Meyer offers a complex, beautiful and challenging investigation of the aesthetic and these beliefs.
Featuring an extensive selection of straight and altered prints (from luscious colour to sharp black and white), Meyer’s work captures Americana, Mexicana and two conflicting world views - materialism epitomised by California versus the spirituality of the Mixtec, (a Mexican people who are traditionally economic migrants to the USA). From this raw material, he juxtaposes figures, objects and environments in seamless electronic collages, simultaneously pushing the medium closer and further from our idealised view.
Previously invisible to the camera, Meyer reveals the rich inner-reality of the Mixtecs, a world populated by companion angels, saints, devils and dead kin. To an extent, one form of ‘magic realism’ replaces another new liberated from texts and vanishing oral traditions. The western eye is briefly fooled and the gulf between
TV bead: Pedro Meyer’s work captures the essence of two cultures — Americana and Mexicana
Equally cynical, however, he also Iambasts the American dream using the same technique. In a middle- America retirement home, a man loses a perfectly good leg. Increased sympathy, fear or revulsion could follow this particular digital intervention.
Meyer’s brilliant but serious and often troubling work is here to educate and enlighten. In the long term, however, Joe Bloggs with only an lnstamatic for company, could be in serious trouble. (Paul Welsh)
A bigger splash: where sport is a religion, it is swimming pools that matter in Australia. Designed by Peter Elliott Architects in Melbourne, Carlton Baths and Community Centre is evidence of a new style of Antipodean architecture
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RI/IS. Edinburgh until Fri 14 Jillll’. Tackling the assumption that the ‘land down under‘ is just a suburban sprawl a la 1 ‘eighbours. On! 0/7710 S/iudmvs‘: Aspects ()fAriiipor/eiin /Il'(‘/ill(’(‘!lll'€. shows that exciting things are happening in Aussie architecture. Yet apparently. as one of the blurbs in the exhibition points out, the family house in the burbs. surrounded by tidy gardens. is not just a national obsession but a national liability.
However there is more. For years the country has suffered from the so-called ‘cultural cringe‘ in aping all things European and American in design. But times are now changing. Taking a look at twelve buildings through photographs. drawings and text. set in RIAS‘s gallery decked out with sheets of corrugated iron and mauve-coloured
drapes suspended froin copper piping, the exhibition offers a diverse sample of contemporary Australian architecture.
Brambuk's Living Cultural Centre by Gregory Burgess Architects is a low- slung building with an undulating roof set in Victoria's outback. As it was the site of the mass genocide of Aborigines in the 1830s by white pastoralists, the architect spent much time in discussion with Aborigines to create a building that paid heed to their design traditions. While architects Edmond & Corrigan's angular and multi-coloured RMIT Building is an architectural scream of building. it says no to an obsession with quaintness. And appropriately for a nation keen on beach-life. Nonda Katsalisdis‘s wooden beach house. where a trio of boulders are integrated as a natural feature into the veranda. shows that a home on the water’s edge can be more than an architectural eyesore. (Susanna Beaumont)
The List 3] May-l3 Jun 1996767