Edinburgh: lnverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sat 13 Jun—Sun 26 Jul.
Myron Stout is not what you'd call a household name. It has a certain robust ring to it, but even during his lifetime, the name of this American artist was hardly tripping off the tongue of your casual art scene punter. Stout was known to the inner core of New York’s artworld cognoscenti — he exhibited with peers like de Kooning, Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns - but he was resistant to artworld stardom. Stout didn't play the media flirt, nor was he prolific. And that matters.
Born and raised in Texas, Stout died in 1987 at the age of 79; so what hope is there now to fan the flames of posthumous fame? Praise in his homeland is on the up — there was a retrospective at New York’s Whitney in 1980 — but what about Britain? For Paul Nesbitt, curator at lnverleith House, Stout is worth serious coverage. Nesbitt sees the show — the first exhibition of Stout's work outside the States and the only one programmed for Britain — as highly exciting. ‘Abstraction is probably the most significant art movement of the 20th century, and I would like people in Scotland to see truly great abstract art,’ he says.
In this age of catchy, minimal visual slogans peddled by 805 rave culture and follow-my-leader ad outfits, Stout's white and black abstract paintings dating from the SOs seem resoundingly contemporary. Pleasingly full, curvy, simple forms float over pitch black backgrounds. They may not be painted in acid colours but they are optimistic, up-beat and lyrical. The titles of these small-scale oils speak of another world however. With titles such as Demeter and Apollo, you get the idea that Stout was big on classical mythology.
Lift-off: Myron Stout's Apollo which he started in 1955
Edinburgh: Stills Gallery until Sat Jun 20 strait/7k
Sick, sick, sick. That’s the state of play wrth Newcastle-based artist Geoff Weston’s work, if the less-than-liberal press of Blairite Britain are to be believed. Yeah, right, and Cool Britannia’s for real. Hail the New Puritan, blah, blah, blah.
Or bleugh, bleugh, bleugh if you prefer. Truth be told, Weston's close- ups of Saturday night spew in his ’Bad Taste' series of photographs may initially bring a lump to your own throat, but sink into its gooey excess and what you have is something akin to rainbow-coloured action paintings.
Elsewhere, we peek into the innards of a diseased lung, which looks like a less amiable landscape populated by headless Clangers on drugs. Meanwhile, Dorothy scurries along her never-ending yellow brick road, at the side of which lie assorted beasts and birds. Road-kill casualties turned inside- out ready for stuffing. Most politically didactic is Whatever Happened To The Potato-Eaters?, a series of close-ups of various brands of Phileas Fogg snacks, which turned around the north-east economy and made its founder a mint.
He was also something of a big-time perfectionist. He started thirteen paintings in the 19505 which he repeatedly reworked. He didn’t embark on any further oils and even of these thirteen, Stout felt that eight were never finished. The art market may hate to be deluged by an artist, but it loathes even more a supply cut-off. Stout didn't deliver the goods nor dance to the tune of the dealers, but could this be the start of his infiltration into household vocabulary? Get down to lnverleith and take your bets. (Susanna Beaumont)
Weston rips unflinchineg into the messy underbelly of things, getting qune literally to the warts and the heart of the matter Without recourse to either the sentimental or the spiritual.
Geoff Weston's Messenger 1997
It’s a kind of purging process, a Zen- like emptying-out made flesh, blood and pizza. And if that doesn't warm the corpuscles of the heart, nothing wrll, (Neil Cooper)
Edinburgh: Collective Gallery until Sat 4 Jul t t at
if you’ve ever Witnessed a late-night pagger down the Cowgate, you'll understand the Vicarious thrill of the spectacle that sends a mix of fear, revulsion and fascination pumping through your veins And if it's a girl—on- girl catfioht, the response (male at any ratet is even more ambiguous
When NIOIII-JUHKOIJ and churn set up Just such a scrap on a Helsinki street, two Video cameras were there to record both punch-up and 'audience’ response for Untitled 96-97. While this slice of two-listed voyeurism captures things closer than ringside, the presence of the cameras also lets the crowd in on the fact that this piece of guerilla theatre is as rigged as any of the bad-tempered bouts staged by lady wrestling legend Mitzi Mueller’s bad- tempered bouts.
The more recent Giants sees the gals move on up to the big screen, surrounded only by the elements. With both sound and vision wound down to sloth's pace, the effect is akin to Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman meets Godzilla wrth Ray Harryhausen manufactured cellulite replacmg plastic rniniatUres. Showrrig off the intimacy of Violence in a sweaty, unflinching fashion, Giants is as hypnotically alluring as De Niro in Raging Bull, and makes for a slap-happy, touching display well worth going a few rounds Wllll. (Neil Cooper)
Colours Of The Indus Edinburgh: Royal Museum until Sun 28 Jun vi: a it x
lronically, this show from London's V8IA was mounted to celebrate the 50th dill'llVQlSaly of the creation of Pakistan. These days, however, the country is hitting the headlines for altogether more ominous reasons than its costumes and textiles
That said, it’s a stunner of an exhibition Followrng the course of the River Indus from near Karachi, on the coast of the Arabian Sea, northwards across Baluchistan and the Punjab to the Hindu Kush, this is a sumptuous trail of outfits and fabric. Blasts of Vibrant colour mark the Journey, while staggering detail and decoration are a constant; as are the thousands of hours of hard work that went in to their creation.
Cotton textiles have been woven in the region as far back as SOOOBC, but interestingly most of the examples on show are firmly 20th century. Are regional textiles and dress still flourishing today, one wonders? Rainbow-coloured silks from the Punjab have a near day-glo richness, while intricately embroidered women's dresses from Baluchistan and lushly coloured children's outfits from Hyderabad put both Monsoon and Baby Gap to shame.
STAR RATINGS * k v: a: it Unmissable * t ‘k 3* Very good ‘ t t air Wort a shot it * Below average « You've been warned
11-25 Jun 1998 THE UST 81