exhibitions - events

The ornamental


Long ridiculed as lightweight, the decorative fights back in a show of seven international abstract artists.

Decorative - it's the dirty word of the art world. Surface charm, marooned from intellectual intent. It may feed the eye but it sure doesn’t satisfy the mind. It is floral frocks from Laura Ashley not the tailored rigour of Dior. It's patterned carpets and flock wallpaper. It's a purist's nightmare. a minimalist’s hell.

The decorative has long had its detractors. One was the purist- personified, Le Corbusier. He believed the more cultivated you became, the less your need for the decorative. David Moos is not of that school. A New Yorker, he's the man behind a show of seven abstract artists at lnverleith House. In full colour. decorative glory, Theories of the Decorative shouts back at its critics. But as Moos points out, even today 'the word decorative in connection with painting still carries a residue of the diminutive, an insinuation of frivolity.’

Fabian Marcaccio's vast canvas is shored to the wall like a tent. A mass of mini-guy ropes holds back the undulating sea of textured-effect colour. It's as if it might break free, tidal wave-like and swamp the viewer in a riot of abstraction. In paintings by Brazilian artist. Beatrix Milhazes, layers of rich colours lap and overlap in a psychedelic wonderworld. Curls of colour layer over an undergrowth of painted swirls and whirls. One, Acorde Mamae is filled with circular and coloured lattice

Foliage and ferns: Philip Taaffe's Acrosticum.

motifs. They are bit like doilies, doubtless a big-time anathema to Le Corbusier.

In the work of German artist Ingo Meller, thick licks of sumptuous pure colour rise up from the hessian-Iike stretches of canvas. While in Leslie Wayne’s oil on wood compositions, strips of what looks like puckered lino, dangle sensually. The figurative plays apart in the work of David Reed. He's interspersed stills from Hitchcock's Vertigo with painted panels filled with what looks like enlarged microcosms of colour.

In Philip Taaffe's work - the most well-known artist in the show - foliage and ferns have been stencilled on to the canvas. The botanical theme, a long-standing underdog in art world hierarchy, fights back. The decorative is still alive and kicking. (Susanna Beaumont) I Theories of the Decorative, lnverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, 552 7171 until 5 Oct, daily 10am—5pm.


, 4. ; "v9.1- .3. ' -. :4, Holiday hell: a detail of one of Calum Colvin's digital photographs

backdrop of burnt earth. A skeletal hand lies outstretched and icons of the age a photo of Naomi Campbell and a Donald Duck balloon are strewn like archaeological remains across a wasteland.

'I would go out with a camera into a strange new world that seemed to be about the future,’ says Colvin of his Spanish holiday destination. 'Apart from at football matches, I had never seen so many people.’

The writings of 17th century Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher have also inspired Colvin’s bizarre images. ’He had lots of ideas, some right, some patently ridiculous,’ says Colvin. One such idea was Kircher’s belief that the earth was fed by an underworld called Oceania a


Pseudologica Fantastica

Bodies laze under a cancer-inducing sun. Oiled and half-naked, they slowly roast. At night the figures abandon the beach and go underground, to clubs guarded by Neanderthal-style bouncers to groove and groan to laser shows. Sun, sea, sand and a taste of

purgatory for Scottish artist Calum Colvin, a package holiday to the Costa Brava was ’a cross between B/aderunner and Blackpool'. Surreal yet as real as the heat of the noon-day sun, it was summertime madness that dipped into subterranean hell.

In his latest series of digitally- constructed photographs titled Pseudologica Fantastica, scorched bodies melt like wax against a

labyrinth of tunnels feeding fire to the world.

In Colvin’s work, holiday-makers caught in holiday snaps populate the world’s fiery underbelly. It is a modernised, 20th century hell. (Susanna Beaumont)

l Pseudologica Fantastica, Calum Colvin, Portfolio Gallery (Venue 42) 220 1911, until 20 Sep, Mon—Sat 10am—5. 30pm, f 1 (50p).

of Surrealism - .; Dali and Max ErnstZare‘seériilhl'éll-fififi their glory with the firstbubllfi} ; showing of the'Keiller Thecollection alsoinclud'e's 721,, f PaolOzil, Andy Warhol

McLean. See review. over. and After. National'Gallerybtg ~ Modern Art (Venue 6515563892, , until 9 NOV, Mon-Sat 1103m+5pmfiifffl Sun 11am-5pm. ' " ' i" Theories of the Decorathm‘ "" Seven f artists show abstract paintingsaingg

Edinburgh's finest exhibition.

See preview, left. Theririe's‘_'of;

Decorative, lnverleith House,'~"R" Botanic Gardne, 552 7171, Untilfstfgfj Oct. daily loam-5pm. . A New Look At 41 Frocks :from tit? king of haute couture, ChristianQ who sent the fashion world'iri 'ai-spiigg

with his New Look in 1942.- Look At 47, Talbot RiceGalle'rY‘GSQfg 2211, until 21 Sep,. Tue—Sat ,. iii 10am-5pm, Sun Z—Spm, £21; 1.10).»4

Raeburn Edinburgh's celebrated son gets his first major retrospective fer over forty years. Raeburn, Royal Scottish Academy (Venue 64) 556 8921, until 5 Oct, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm, £4 (£2.50).

Pseudologica Fantastlca Calum Colvin's digitally-constructed photographs inspired by a trip to the Costa Brava won’t make you wish you were there. See preview, left. Pseudologica Fantastica, Portfolio Gallery, 220 1911, until 20 Sep, Mon-Sat 1 0am-5. 30pm.

Endlesst A vast two-screen video installation of the waters of the North Sea and a Victorian graveyard angel. Dalziel and Scullion, National Gallery Of Modern Art (Venue 66) 556 8921, until 14 Sep, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11 am—5pm. Gerhard Richter Germany’s top- ranking artist shows his multiples - offset and silkscreen prints - for the first time in the UK. Among the line up is a smiling Chairman Mao and a blurred at the edges, Queen Elizabeth. Gerhard Richter; Fruitmarket Gallery 225 2383, until 27 Sep, 10am-7pm, Sun noon—7pm.

15-21 Aug 1997 rueusrer