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Reckoning With The Past

Mao is wearing flowery pyjamas at the Fruitmarket. Paul Welsh looks at contemporary art of the Far East.

From Confucius to communism. China has often perplexed the West. Boasting a radically different political. aesthetic and .-.piritual heritage from Europe. the relative stability of three millennia of imperial rule ended with Mao Tse-Tung and a new line in shirts.

Confronting this history and present economic changes. Ree/toning With The Past at the Fruitmarket Gallery is the first major international show of contemporary Chinese painting. Two years in preparation. it presents the work of fifteen men and women artists from China. Taiwan and Hong Kong. Traversing styles from Pop Art. pure kitsch and expressionistic still lifes to traditional calligraphy and drawing. they use a rich repertoire of icons to fill the predominantly figurative work.

Sages rub shoulders with the People's

Army (Wei Ol’alace Ovaerlasting Happiness). Mao appears in flowery pyjamas (Yo Youhan's Mao Series). Cultures collide when The Little Red Book is co-authored by Bon Jovi (Wei Dong's Early Qing landscape) and the struggle between communism and capitalism is reduced to Nintendo (Feng Mengbo's Streetfighters 1—4).

To a Western eye, many other political references may seem obscure but there is no mistaking the post-Tiananmen Square fatigue and cynicism coursing through the work. In Wu Tien-Chang’s

In the iamiiy: Zhang Xiagang‘s The Big Family. lloi

Goodbye! America I and 2. a blind folded Statue of Liberty licks her flaming beacon as if it were a giant ice- cream cornet still tastes good to me! she says. While over at Mount Rushmore. George Washington sticks his tongue out at the world.

Ree/toning With The Past is rich and varied unfamiliar farebut as Confucius says. a thousand-mile journeystarts with the first step. Step in.

I Reckoning With The Past Fruitmarket Gallery. 225 2383. until 28 Sept. Mon—Sun I0.30am—7pm.


The Demarco European Art Foundation

It’s a sort oi iamentation to the squashed insect. The delicate, skeletal wings oi a moth, a iaintly yellow wasp or a blackish splodge that was once a ily, are held between thin strips oi glass and suspended in panels irom the ceiling. liiin Ilover’s Insect Laminations is strangely moving.

Then there’s Melissa ilo’s Face Pro/ect- a series oi black and white portraits with the words ‘Vlhat Do You See’ written over the laces with pinned-up responses iroin viewers below. lio, an American tron! Carnegie Mellon University (as is Ilover) has got a good-line up oi iaces - they look out intently or smile as ii in a real good American Brean. One

m ' 2 1 . ‘H

lleart is Where The ileart lies: an lnstallalon iron Alexis Boodrlch

geeky, waspish bloke has provoked the line ‘Genetically prepared tor the Ilew Age’, tor another more serious guy, the bubble caption reads ‘Pop Tarts’.

When it comes to championing artistic diversity, there’s no venue

quite like The Bemarco European Art Foundation. Wandering around the mum-layered warren oi a space - a one-time school you could well stumble across an abandoned chair or a cache oi empty drink bottles - or an installation by an Eastern European artist along with works by recently graduated Scottish artists or a group irom the US.

This year there’s twelve mini exhibitions to be seen. There’s a tribute to Joseph Beuys in the ionn oi Manresa, a series oi photographs recording one oi his ‘happenings’ irom 1966 and installations im a group oi Bulgarian artists. But the real eye-catcher is tied Slim by Scottish artist, Benny lisbet. Positioned alone in a room oi ultra- violet light, a vast sphere slowly and silently spins. Then, suddenly, the silence is seared by a screech as an electric current screams out giving all a spray oi vivid blue light. It’s a stunner. (Susanna Beaumont)

Tire Deniarco European Art Foundation (Venue 22) 557 0707, until 31 Aug, Mon-Sat 11am-6pm; Sun 2-6prn.


quick hits

I Ballum Innes A stunning retrospective of work by Edinburgh-bom anist lnnes. shortlisted for last year's Turner Prize. lnverleith House. Royal Botanic Garden, 552 7/ 7]. until 6 Oct. dail y [0am—5pm

I lielen Chadwick A poignant exhibition in the light of Chadwick’s death earlier this year. Undoubtedly one of Britain's most interesting artists. Stilled Lives shows her photographs exploring in-vitro fertilisation. See Front Of House. Portfolio Gallery. 220 [9/]. tutti! 2/ Sept. Mon—Sat I Own—5.30pm; Sun noon—4.30pm. f I .50 (75p).

I Biacometti A blockbuster of an exhibition, celebrating the famed creator ofthe bronze walking figure and one of the greats of 20th century art. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art. 556 892/. until 22 Sept. Mon—Sat

I 0am—5pm; Sun I lam—5pm. £4 (£2.50).

I Velazquez In Seville Highlighting his early years. works by the 17th century Spanish master. National Gallery of Scotland. 556 892/. tutti! 20 Oct. Mon—Sat lOam- 6pm; Sun

I I ant—6pm.

I Barbara £88 Haunting and dreamy photographs taken using a pin-hole camera. See review. Stills Gallery. 225 9876. until I4 Sept. Tue-Fri [lam—6pm; Sat

I l am-5pm.

I Gateway To The Silk Read First showing in the West of an exquisite collection of ceramics. sculpture and bronze works from China. City Art Centre. 529 3993. until 5 Oct. Mon—Sat

I Dam-5.30pm; San noon-5pm. £3 (£2). llant-6pm.

84 The List I6-22 Aug I996