Edinburgh: College Of Art until Wed 22 Dec ‘35: we
This compact exhibition of prints gives the Brit Pack a quick shuffle and brings together two contemporary portfolios as well as work by Julian Opie, Adam Dant and Grenville Davey, all from the Arts Council of England Collection.
Printed by Paragon Press in 1992, the London Portfolio was envisaged as a portable show of London's most wanted, including Marc Quinn and Gavin Turk, both working within ideas of authorship and self.
Other Men’s Flowers was produced by Paragon Press in 1994 and curated by the late Joshua Compston, famous for his East End Shoreditch happenings in Hoxton Square which were dubbed ’a fete worse than death' and 'the hanging picnic’, and resembled a cross between an open-air art market and a vicars' tea party. Always one for irony, Compston’s introductory page reprints a 19505 National Union of Farmers warning poster: ’Please Keep Out. Foot and Mouth Precautions'. Both stark and striking, it shares a sad humour with Michael Landy's Cor! What a Bargain. Featured as part of his 1992 show, Closing Down Sale, Landy uses a sickly orange monochrome and permanent marker to mimic and subvert the gaudy shabbiness of recession-fuelled closures and shut- downs.
Acting as an antidote to this are
Template For My Future Plastic Surgery by Marc Quinn
more tender moments. Mat Collinshaw has printed text from Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence's famously censored book, while Rachel Whiteread's Mausoleum Under Construction touches a nerve. So to does Tracy Emin’s Untitled, 3 print of her handwritten account of the suspected murder of her brother’s friend —- it is a moving highlight of the exhibition.
With other offerings from Damien Hirst, Helen Chadwick, Gary Hume, Angus Fairhurst and many more, the show adds up to a bit of a Who’s Who; but it also achieves the purpose of the Arts Council Collection, which is to be out there and be seen. (Will Silk)
Dettie Flynn/Lesley Shearer Glasgow: Street Level until Sat 19 Dec
The two shows at Street Level are both concerned With narrative For Dettie Flynn, photographic work is a form of storytelling The problem that she tries to solve is how to overcome the silence of the photograph In her 1997 show, Yarn, at Aberdeen Art Gallery, Flynn
; solved this dilemma literally She
would, on the request of Visitors, tell the tales behind the images
Here, under the title Shortening The Road, Six works are collected They encompass Flynn's desire to tell stories and the way in which the SIOFICS theiriselves might speed or lighten our Journey She uses text to help us hear
Women And Men by Lesley Shearer
her images, and her most striking piece is a mediation on the nature of letter- writing a beautiful Turin Shroud-like work carrying the carbon paper imprint of thousands of words
If Flynn tries to tell us true stories, then Lesley Shearer's cinematic tableaux are true 'ies Twelve large photoworks, elaborately staged, hyper-real, look like stills from a succesSion of domestic dramas You can read your own narratives into the scenes of subtle dISCOld, silence and misunderstanding. In one of the core images the protagonists don't even share a room A man in his uphcﬂsterecl chair, a woman in the kitchen It is a compelling image of mutual solitude yet curioust comforting You know it's Just like mum and dad (Moira Jeffrey)
Edinburgh: Talbot Rice Gallery until Sat 19 Dec * e 1%
Ideas collide. Words and their meaning jostle. On a background canvas of cream and beige, strips of fabric (the kind used for deck chairs) and packets of seeds are laid. Spanish parsley, squash, sage. Elsewhere, often on the canvas edge, are words stitched onto nametapes. They spell out phrases: ’speak pink’ — to speak in an over refined way or ’sardonic — grimly iocular . . . with reference to the belief that eating a "sardinian plant" could reSuIt in convulsive laughter ending in death'.
Helen MacAlister throws together many ideas. The Edinburgh-born artist, currently based in Paris, navigates a course through the art of communication, throwing up as many themes and as the ones she tackles. Even the title of the exhibition, Dollo's Law, takes a little digesting. It is defined as the law stating 'that structures or functions once lost to an evolving group of organisations can never be regained’. All very engaging, but somehow it does not hang together. The Visual language is nearly, but not quite, resolved enough to pull it off. (Susanna Beaumont)
Dollo's Law by Helen MacAlister
Edinburgh: National Gallery of Modern Art until Sun 14 Feb e at e e
There is a kind of harvest-time abundance in John Maxwell’s paintings. Full-figured women and solid men are surrounded by ripe fruit and garlands of flowers, and the colours are invariably rich and misty. A sense of the magical veils the werk: the paintings intrigue and are frequently beWitching.
John Maxwell is yet another Scottish artist that the National Gallery of Modern Art has 'retrospected’ in the last few years The shows can be insubstantial, the chosen artist simply not haying the talent to pull it off — but Maxwell does.
It would be easy to call Maxwell Scotland's answer to Chagall. Though Maxwell, who died in I962, didn’t evolve to internationalism as did Chagall, their paintings both inhabit an earthy sensuality, a twrlight zone of rural romance With hints of symbolism But it is Maxwell's illustrations to books with such engaging titles as The Acreage Of The Heart and / Would Be Acolyte that give him further backing as an artist of definite standing. (Susanna Beaumont)
Maxwell's Two Figures In A Landscape
Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Sat 28 Nov; Part 2 Sat S—Sat I2 Dec *‘k e: TransmissIon, in the name of philanthropy, has socially engineered the birth of an artistic supergroup. Operating under the code name ’The Janus Programme‘, these eight carbon life-forms have been bestowed With the power of curators 'establish a strategy; construct an exhibition; dismantle'
While the intention was obViously to initiate a collaboration between the artists and encourage them to 'take on being understood/typecast/ categorised’, some of them appear to have shifted their mischievous sense of humour back towards the mechanism of the gallery itself.
Lindsey Orr has ventured into the world of New Age mysticism, empIOying a Feng Shin consultant to organise and place the artists and artwork in the most spiritually benefiCial posnion. Michael Wilkinson’s Hoarding, on the outside of the gallery, is the kind of wooden fabrication which usually protects the public from structural transformation and falling masonry. While you could read this as the kind of intervention which damages the sanctity of the 'White cube’, its architecturally redundant nature does make you wonder if another kind of facelift is being suggested.
Many of the other works -- With the exception of Anne-Louise Kieran's deceptively slight narratives occasionally spitting out tiny drops of acid -- display unassuming restraint, which is perhaps JUSI a fraction too modest their own good That said, these artists are at least true to their name-giver, Janus, the two- faced god He would no doubt enioy the ambigu0us, paradOXical tone of the best works (John Beagles)
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