Edinburgh: lnstitut Francais d'Ecosse, until Sat 21 Mar *Vkit
Marching in line formation are toy soldiers. They're the sort you get in model shops. As a child, and most likely a boy, you might have lined up similar soldiers and fought the enemy for territorial advances across the kitchen table or the bedroom carpet.
In Laurent Tixador’s photographs, the toy soldiers march endlessly. They stride onwards in groups of fours and fives - but there is not a hint of military khaki about them, nor evidence of weaponry. Tixador's soldiers are clearly not mindful of camouflage. Drawn from various ranks and global forces, their dress code is one of vibrant colour. What’s more, every one of them - and there are probably over 100 — is playing the bugle. They appear a happy band of itinerant and
Small Soldiers by Laurent Tixador
For ten years, BO-something French artist Tixador has been buying toy soldiers and exploring the concept of frontiers. In this show, Small Gardens, Small Soldiers Tixador's soldiers march over swathes of land marked out in candy-floss pink, primary colours, psychedelic whirls and Royal Stewart tartan. This land looks a fun land.
On the floor of the gallery lies a rectangular carpet. Cut out of it are a number of rectangles. Some are fringed, others are not. It echoes the notion of military manoeuvres. One fringed rectangle has 'advanced' into unfringed territory.
Real-life frontiers are more complicated than different colour schemes and carpet Cut-outs, hut Tixador lightens up the issues. Who knows -— his soldiers could be bugle- playing peacekeepers. (Susanna Beaumont)
'As The Red Train Hurtles By, The Hand Of God Saves A Falling Child And The.Scent
Of A Woman Is Sucked Into a Dark A Dark Carriage' by Steven Campell
Artaid '98 Edinburgh: City Art Centre, until Sat 21 Mar *‘k‘kt
Roll up, roll up for the biggest art fair in town, as the annual benefit for Aids charity Crusaid Scotland opens its doors and encourages the well-heeled to dig deep into their pockets for some quality art while also adding to their coffers.
All the big Scottish guns are here, from Eduardo Paolozzi to the mid-80s Glasgow Art School brat-pack of Adrian Wiszniewski, Steven Campbell, Ken Currie and Peter Howson. Alison Watt is there too, as is Damien Hirst, but art stars come in all shapes and sizes. Hirst’s contribution, Spotscar, is a large-scale punning stunt, a collaboration with former Clash man Paul Simonon, who also does a solo work with his view of Portmeiron Beach. ThereLs also a,portable and surprisingly impressive David Bowie, and even something from HRH Prince
And of course it wouldn’t be a show without Punch, or Judy come to that, as Gilbert and George offer up the cheapest item on show With Screensavers. At £12 each they allow the most casual of punters to have one of the dynamic duo's typically profane works at the flick of their computer switch.
Inevitany the show is a mixed bag. For everything brilliant like Stephen Conroy’s Untitled (at £23,500, one of the show’s pricier items) there’s something banal. You can't help wondering whether some of the exhibition is made up of cast-offs poached from assorted attics.
Most touching of all though, are Ken Currie’s two stark works, while Sebastian Horsley's Sunflowers (/n Memory of Billy Mackenzie) is as moving a tribute to a fallen comrade as any. Take your cheque book. (Neil Coopen
Edinburgh: Stills Gallery until Sat 21 Mar *ktt
You've heard of rat catchers, but how about cloud catchers? Hardly a common actiVity or an easy one. Ever tried pinning down the white fluffy things that scud across the sky?
German artist Gerhard Lang has. He went on cloud catching expeditions across Glencoe and Rannoch Moor wearing walking boots and armed with glass flasks. And the ev:dence is in Stills Gallery. Ordnance Survey maps marked with Lang‘s expedition routes are tacked to the wall, alongside photos of Lang tackling cloud- covered terrain. Then there are the glass flasks and their wooden transport boxes.
Viewed as either souvenirs of a day in the great outdoors, a description of the landscape or as evidence of a scientific trail for the catchable cloud, Lang’s work plays wrth the imagination. It lets the irrational shout back at the rational.
Cornelia Parker’s work also provokes curiosity. Mobilising the mind to side step usual thought patterns, she takes you on a journey of exploration. A Georgian silver teaspoon, a byword for social gentility, has been stretched to the length of Niagara Falls, that thunderous and far from genteel avalanche of water. A photograph which at first glance could be an aerial landscape shot is in fact of a close-up of grooves from a record that once belonged to Hitler. A record of what? Wagner perhaps. Where did Parker get the record? Parker throws up question marks by the barrow-load.
A recent Glasgow School Of Art graduate, Alan Thomson is another man of the clouds. By blowing up a series of photographs of cloud formations, Thomson has dissipated the images. Clouds, it seems, will forever be elusive. (Susanna Beaumont)
The Best Of British Illustration Glasgow: Collins Gallery, until Sat 14 Mar *‘k‘k
Tabasco, Sombrero. Bandido by Adrian Johnson
For The Best Of British Illustration, the cream of UK publishing, art criticism and advertising judged work submitted by members of the Association Of Illustrators. This group of experienced and new artists dabbles in everything from naturalism to Surrealism and Impressionism. Name the movement and its influence can be spotted.
If nothing else, this show illustrates how radical art movements are absorbed into the mainstream. Though the work is predominately commercial, unchallenging work, there is no shortage of style.
In the print and design section, James Marsh draws vividly from a gushing imagination. His work has fronted opera programmes in Seattle and adventurous Puffin children’s books. Contrast his comfortable outlook with Claire Mackie's spiky cartoons for the smart store Harvey Nichols. It is all bitchy asides, sexy thin women — and the ugly mother-in-Iaw.
Elsewhere, Charlotte Combe’s work takes us to coffee shops in Amsterdam. Lizzie Harper presents a solid-looking Pygmy Hippo, and Maxine Hall creates a Poor Cow using digitally manipulated photographs. Everyone will find something attractive here. (Paul Welsh)
Edinburgh; National Gallery Of Modern Art until 10 May ***
Rich and heavy are the words which come to mind when looking at William MacTaggart’s paintings. Full of livid red suns, rolling rural-ness and crowded still life compositions, they leave you feeling a touch overfed. There's a sense that MacTaggart, who died in 1981, was trying too hard. The canvasses are frequently overworked, the paint often rising up in impastoed peaks. MacTaggart was ohvrously fond of intensity. A would-be Expressionist who admired the work of Munch, he never quite reached the point he was clearly keen to get to.
The early landscapes are lighter and more lyrical, with a sense of fresh air. Later, after trips to Europe, taking in the work of his contemporaries, MacTaggart piled the paint on, lavishing strokes of colour onto the canvas. Stormy seas and midnight blue skies, sinking suns and dark soil. At times its successful. Winter Sunset — The Red Soil is brilliantly rich. The landscape seems to ache and the colour fires.
In 1952 MacTaggart, again in Europe, visited an exhibition of work by Rouault, the French artist of intense, colour-rich, often religious paintings. In MacTaggart’s York Minster, colour is parcelled up in dark outlines — Rouault's influence shows heavrly MacTaggart had conviction but his skills were limited. (Susanna Beaumont)
20 Feb—5 Mar 1998 "IE U981