The Mag Collection
Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery until Sat 7 Mar it it ir
This is an unusual beast: a collection of contemporary 'image-based art' amassed by a private individual, Paul Wilson. Not that this in itself is remarkable, but the curiously-titled Mag Collection is a pick ’n’ mix affair. With over 150 works by 70 artists, this is a show that goes big time on quantity.
Like a party with an eclectic bunch of guests, this show makes you wonder how they all got to be there — Bruce McLean and Andy Goldsworthy, Cathy de Monchaux, Sam Taylor-Wood and Gillian Wearing. Unlike Sensation, the recent controversy-friendly show from the stable of a more media- motivated private collector, Charles Saatchi, you get the impression that these artists might not be great mates. Perhaps the Mag is a bit of relief on that front — it has none of that annoying sense of bonhomie.
But there is of course another agenda. In the Mag Collection, now based in the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, Paul Wilson set out to purchase specifically image-based work and followed a curating policy favouring women (75% of the work is by women). Working on an apparently tight - inherited - budget, Wilson had to be judicious with his funds purchasing often small-scale, photo-based works. He has also titled the collection History. Whose history, you may ask.
Wander around the Fruitmarket and your eyes fall on innumerable 'vignettes', still lifes and amorphous blobs of what could be something biological. Subtle maybe, but these frequently subside into sheer weakness.
Punctuating the show are works with more clout. Tracey Emin sitting in a desert landscape looks wistfully up from a book entitled 'Exploration Of The Soul’. In Boyd Webb’s Unfrocked a glutinous-looking pig’s trotter
Outside Myself, Monument Valley - 1994 by Tracey Emin
oozes into a psychedelic sea of colour. Sam Taylor-Wood is dazed by car headlights on Spanker's Hill and a bare- footed Mona Hatoum is seen dragging a pair of hefty Dr Martens along a pavement.
Elsewhere, Richard Woods has daubed pictures of BMWs and Ford Estates with blobs of enamel paint. Caryn Simonson shows lightboxes of fabric which you put you in mind of flesh and body parts, while Ian Hamilton Finlay's honeysuckle-wrapped guillotine and text deals with weighty issues.
This is a something for everyone show. To carry that party analogy a bit further, expect the fare to be assorted nibbles rather than a substantial square meal. (Susanna Beaumont)
Fangs for the memory: Jaws’s teeth at McLeIlan Galleries
The World Of 007
your prized Aston Martin — villains, and screen climaxes which have been plentiful over the years, each one bigger than the last. There are plunging necklines too, though how you managed to persuade all those exotically named maidens to part with their cocktails frocks is beyond me.
As if this weren’t a big enough breach of security, 007, you go and allow photo opportunities to any punter who fancies themself as a future Oddjob, Jaws 0r Blofeld. Why, if the Cold War weren’t over I’d have your licence revoked and see you put out to grass - or a least some Mediterranean rest home. Mind you, Judging by the mugshots on show, you’re looking younger every day. Not bad considering it was once claimed
Glasgow: McLeIlan Galleries until Sun 19 Apr it * t t Now pay attention, Bond. Now you’ve blown your cover and gone public as the world's highest-profile secret agent, you'll be needing a few tricks up your sleeve. Not that you’ve ever been short of those, as we can see at this simply super exhibition.
HQ has come clean, charting your
82 THE UST 6—19 Feb 1998
brilliant career from when that Ian Fleming fellow first let you loose on the page. That was in Casino Royale back in 1953, but we are taken right up to the present day and your current big-screen, big-buck celluloid affairs. And what a lot of souvenirs you've amassed over the years, 007. Absolutely everything's there for Johnny Foreigner to take a swipe at. Gadgets, gizmos, vehicles — including
that you started out as an undercover milkman.
Still, I suppose you can always fleece punters at this suitably titled Official James Bond Exhibition by flogging them the merchandise. 007 socks are just what a secret agent needs in this weather, and it looks like there's plenty of life in you yet. Tomorrow, as they say, never dies. 0r yesterday, come to that. (Neil Cooper)
The Big Picture Show
Edinburgh: City Art Centre, until Sat 14 Mar ** at
Dusting down its collection more extensively than it has in years, the City Art Centre has put together what’s described as the largest ever show of works from the City of Edinburgh's store of Scottish art. Out of cold storage come Paolozzi, Howson and Wiszniewski — to name but a few usual suspects - plus artists long since dead and gone.
The exhibition takes up all six levels of the gallery, arranged chronologically. The top floor begins with 18th century views of Edinburgh and portraits of the city's worthies, all of them eye— catching, if not conventionally good- Iooking. One anonymous gentleman painted in 1713 has what can only be described as a brilliant abundance of golden curls that hang well below his shoulders. His double chin and faintly fey demeanour make him all the more bedazzling.
By way of the hilly landscapes and country folk tilling the earth, Viewers can cruise gently through the decades. A burst of menace found in Eric Robertson's 'Shellburst’, a Wyndham Lewis—esque painting from 1919; while there's studied gentility in Francis Cadell's portrait of a red-lipped young beauty. A Chagall-like intensity glows from John Maxwell’s ’Harvest Moon’ of 1960. Rich oranges rise from the canvas, giving form to two horizontal figures locked in firm embrace.
Representing the present day, Peter Howson’s sludge—brown canvas is populated by half-naked muscular males; while Will McLean's abstract 'Whaup’ is resolutely up-beat.
The contemporary collection has been bumped up with work by lesser-known artists: the City Art Centre received over 100 works in the recent distribution of the Scottish Arts Council collection to galleries throughout Scotland. It all amounts to an
interesting survey, if not an entirely knockout show. (Susanna Beaumont)
ii I 9472/», ,1 7‘.‘ . h,” -;' i; Woman at a Fireplace, No 1 by Robert MacBryde STAR RATINGS * 1r it k i Unmissable * e * it Very ood ii: * «r Wort a shot it * Below average * You've been warned