Coming up with roses: one of Graeme Graig-Smith’s canvases
A MAD WOMAN GAVE ME A RDSE
WASPS Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 14 July.
Often it is easy to ignore newly emerging artistic talents because they are exhibiting in out-of-the-way places. Over the years, the WASPS Gallery in Stockbridge, a converted former warehouse, has highlighted a diverse range of young artists working in all fields of arts and crafts. This month, the spotlight falls on the work of one of the resident studio artists, Graeme Graig-Smith.
Born in Glasgow, Graig-Smith moved to Edinburgh five years ago and this is his first solo exhibition, which aims to display the whole inventive spectrum of his work. It is a surprising but welcome variety of styles and subject matter. liis skills with portraiture and figurative painting are well developed and they hang alongside more
symbolic, often expressionistic work. Indeed, Graig-Smith wants to emphasise that an artist should not be restricted to one style. While there are works which are based on certain ideas or even poems and music (as shown in the canvas called ‘The Ghost of the Rose’), there is no attempt to make any profound statements or to focus on obsessively recurrent themes.
In addition to the canvas work, there are examples of commercial commissions, from winning poster designs for Edinburgh’s Spring Fling to a giant papier mache head and jotter that were suspended above browsers’ heads at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year, to a giant street art canvas that has become an ever-evolving bank of instinctive ideas. Whatever tastes in perception may be, this exhibition demonstrates how a one-man collective can be dedicated to producing work that’s accessible, colourful and honestly varied. (Paul Smith)
ERE— SLIDE snow
Tramway, Glasgow until Sun 14 Jul. Picture the scene . . . somewhere in Glasgow, a room with a cold concrete floor. Outside, a passing reviewer hears a slide projector race through its carousel. Intrigued, he steps into the dark space and stares at the screen . . . What does he see?
Until last week, my life experience would have suggested three possibilities for the slide show: extinct animals, exotic holiday destinations or dubious photographs of a personal nature. If you also thought the medium was exhausted after that, it’s time to think again. Geal Floyer’s Slide Show at Glasgow’s Tramway requires a completely new category. Projected in sequence, her specially commissioned installation features pictures of minutely different slide-mounts.
It you sit long enough, the mechanised passage of these slides soon becomes hypnotic. Gradually details become apparent. Two mounts close in different ways. One crops an image on the right. Another on the left. Two leave pinholes. Three leave thln rectangular strips. Forty-eight
Projecting her fantasies: Geal Floyer’s Slide Show
variations, in fact, and questions, questions, questions.
Slide Show could be either fetishistic, a political statement about control, or a visual pun on technology and our myriad expectations. It could be all this rolled into one or something completely different. In today’s climate, Ployer’s rampant ambiguity mares challenging, successful art. I mean, what do we really want to see? is there anything worth projecting? Difficult questions, Geal, but surprisingly good ones. (Paul Welsh)
EARTH AND EVERYTHING
GGA, Glasgow until Sun 4 August.
As the title suggests, Earth And Everything covers a serious amount of ground. Housed in the GGA, this collection of recent art from South Africa is big, bold and diverse like the parent culture. The exhibition features the work of thirteen artists of various ethnic origins and tackles practically every issue under South Africa’s extremely hot sun. References to apartheid are noticeable and welcome but thankfully do not dominate proceedings.
At first there appears to be an abundance of ‘folk art’ or ‘craft’ in the show - both extremely un-GGA-Iike phenomena. However, there is enough subtlety and contrast around to avoid all comparisons with a Cape Town tourist mall.
Inevitany there are turkeys - some garish acrylics come to mind - but stand-out work includes Johannes Mashego Segogela’s tableau Multi- Denominafional Congress. Delicater carved and painted wooden figures - priests and worshippers - surround a grotesque and bloodied black devil, bowing, throwing stones or covering their eyes.
Fanozi Chickenman Mkize’s selection of road signs - nailed together and painted between 1986 and 1992 - are both funny and subversive. In any wilderness area, these objects are
Colour chart: Pennv Sioois’ Glass And Race
distant laws incarnate but Mkize undermines their potency by creating his own messages. ‘Words, Words, Words,’ says one. ‘Out to Lunch’, says another. ‘Gone Flying’ is perhaps the most wishful of them all.
Opposite stands Anton Karstel’s SMG Plumb, a rough steel box used to house migrant workers. Busting and hard- edged, a single window is obscured by newspapers, but a peep-hole allows a partial view inside. There, a body lies on the red dusty floor. Alive, dead or drunk, it doesn’t really matter, this is a desolate condition for anyone, anywhere, to experience. In contrast, the dignity of lfay Hassan’s Bundles And Suitcases tells another story - one of care, attention and purpose. ﬁrmed- up by hope, Earth And Everything offers the lot. (Paul Welsh)
I’m-r/n/I’u (Jul/cry. Edinburgh. unli/ 'I‘lrurs / Aug. Martin Parr is a tourist who photographs other tourists. While the rest of its resent other travellers interfering with our holiday-making. Parr throws himself into package tours. guided tours. safaris. the lot. He targets major tourist icons. from Pisa to the pyramids. to capture what he describes as. ’the difference between the myth and the reality of the tourist industry‘. Holiday brochures offer as the illusion ofa pttre and authentic experience. The reality to which Parr refers is that tourism dilutes and trivialises that ideal. Part of seeing the
Leaning Tower of Pisa is watching tourists pretend to lean against it for their classic snapshot. A visit to Nazareth or Santiago is reducible to trinkets from a souvenir shop.
Parr has a wonderful eye for the absurd and the ironic. His view of the Sphinx is almost totally obscured by a man wearing a BOY cap. At the Acropolis he photographs segregated groups of Japanese and Western tourists. all more focused on their tour guide than on the site itself.
Parr has a laugh at tourists' expense. but thankfully he sees himself as part of the crowd. Since the 70s he has been documenting these blunt realities because he is genuiner fascinated by people's behaviour abroad. ‘All people are surreal.‘ he declares. 'Wc are all absurd!‘ (Tanya Stephan)