The House In The
Woods Glasgow: CCA, Fri 3Apr—Sat 16 May.
It’s hardly a revelation these days to point out that fairytales have a whole lot more going on than mere kids stuff. You know the drill: dark Freudian tunnels, psycho-sexual foliage in imagined lands where bogeymen dwell. Think Hansel and Gretel, and you’ll have reached the terrain of this new exhibition of contemporary German sculpture which features five leading artists, all of whom draw inspiration from the darker side of childhood.
The exhibition itself spans two generations, ranging from Stephan Balkenhol’s wooden sculptures to Mariele Neudecker's model maps and diorams representing a play between factual and fictional landscapes. In between are Martin Honert's magnification of the fantastical, Thomas Schiitte’s exploration of good and evil, and Wiebke Siem's collections of objects relating to toys and clothes.
The seeds of the exhibition date back to Nicola White's tenureship as CCA’s exhibitions programmer, when she became aware not only of the exciting wave of young artists coming out of Germany, but how they were thematically connected. Her successor, Francis McKee, and curator Iain Irving have picked up where White left off.
’It’s said that every time there's an upheavel in Germany people turn to folk tales as that tradition, stemming from the Brothers Grimm, relates very strongly to their national identity,’ says McKee. 'So
the unification of Germany has left
a surfeit of insecurity which is expressed here through art.’ Something to hold onto when you’re crawling from the wreckage then?
‘On the surface the work looks very simple and superficial,‘ McKee continues, ‘but it hits a nerve because of this weird knowing and ominous quality, so what we're seeing is the debris of archetypal things that we go back to when we need comfort.’
Mariele Neudecker, for instance, asked people to draw maps of the world from memory, before enlarging the results. This 'it was all fields in my day' mentality is a sentimental one, but its depiction here skirts shy of any
Stephan Balkenhol's Woman With Cowhead
notions of the kitsch. Rather, it‘s an expression of cultural insecurity that’s particularly pertinent to Scotland. As a nation on the verge of devolution, a creative cross-fertilisation has been going on for some time, with home-grown iconoclasts Douglas Gordon and Christine Borland spending time in Berlin, while the writer Janice Galloway has written a new fairytale for the The House In The Woods brochure.
’It’s a hothouse in Berlin just now because the whole city’s being rebuilt,’ says McKee. ’It’s to do with this German obsession with its past, and Neudecker talks about Hitler having stolen our sunsets.’ (Neil Cooper)
Susan Derges/Paul Keir
Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Gardens until Thu 26 Apr *t‘k'k
Walking to Inverleith House, which stands smack in the middle of the Royal Botanic Gardens, it’s easy to find yourself musing over the joys of nature. Budding bushes, flowering
' magnolias and swathes of green 9'355
- the full gorgeous whack of nature’s
5,, .’ glories.
It's a good warm-up to the work of
‘2' Susan Derges, a Dartmouth-based
" artist. On the walls hang her large-
h';.11-".. scale photograms.
River Taw ’Moon’ by Susan Derges
78 "IE LIST 2—16 Apr 1998
Moody and intricate, some are filled with a tracery
( . of thin dark lines, others resemble ’v close-ups of body cells. Nebulous
forms are flecked with dark clusters. This is nature’s secret side.
In a series of works entitled River Taw, Derges has achieved these curious, shadowy images by immersing
light-sensitive paper in the river at night. The light of the moon and the occasional use of a flashlight create patterns reflecting the movement of the water. lmportantly, by not using a camera, Derges captures the water's eddies and whirls from below. A rare sight even for undenivater swimmers
In the upstairs galleries, Paul Keir shows cool, monochromatic works. Tightly ordered graphite scribbles fill pages of computer paper, a time- consuming exercise but little more. Elsewhere Keir has scribbled directly on the white gallery walls — a disciplined stretch of doodles pleasing because of the contradiction. Doodles, the most free-range of activities, are given the full-on meticulous treatment. Keir’s oil on gesso works have a deep-chilled air. All-white and again meticulous, they are starkly beautiful.
Glasgow: Collins Gallery until Sat 2 May tit
Tea, coffee, cocaine, herom, Everyone has their favourite hit, but the world’s most common pick-me-up crosses generations and class diVides It‘s cocoa, more commonly known in the form of a Mars Bar, Kit Kat or Fruit & Nut. In Choco/ate, a selection pack of artists reflect on our chocaholic age.
In Adrian Keefe's Choc Art, twelve 20th century artists were each asked to make one piece of confectionery for his chocolate box. Through the mists of time, Van Gogh arrived With a chocolate ear. Dali offered an orange fondant cream crawling With ants and Picasso presented a perfect cube Duchamp Slmply mocks, With his anti- chocolate chocolate.
Elsewhere in this grotto of chocolatey excess, there are Stephen Healey's molar teeth moulded in chocolate, Anne Philbrow’s Video of people bathing in chocolate and Hermione Allsop's Death By Chocolate, a full- sized chocolate body.
We are a nation of chocaholics — 90% of the UK population consume 1709 per week - and this is a iustly sweet tribute. (Paul Welsh)
Edinburgh: Kingfisher Gallery until Fri 17 Apr “R xx
Only a mug would opt for reality over illusron. It's a fact that is borne out in the work of Edinburgh artist Lucy Ross Not one for small gestures, Ross opts for a largely expreSSionist approach to explore big themes, In ///u5ion And Reality she delves into Greek tragedy, commedia dell’arte and more subdued, if less impressive, watercolour studies inspired by a recent stay in Italy.
Informed by a strong sense of the European tradition, her paintings and sculptures demonstrate a range of influences, while the strongest pieces are those which play wnh SUbJECI and form Busy and dramatic, her Garden Of Verona suggests the architecture, panorama and colour of an Italian summer.
In Janet Melrose’s work there is a preoccupation With the patterns and textures of Eastern art, while Moray Miller's New Work /n Ceramic And Glass plays With various materials and geometric designs to create work hinting at different ages and climes. Foreign shores always did get the creative juices flowing. (Claire Prentice)
STAR RATINGS 1r * * x * Unmissable s is i it Very cod 1: * * Wort a Shot * * Below average it You've been warned