Mies Van Der Rohe
Glasgow: Burrell Collection until Sun 29 Aug x 1k at s
The ‘less is more’ philosophy adhered to by German architect Mies Van Der Rohe proves to be as valid as ever when applied to this exhibition, one of the centrepieces of Glasgow 1999. Eschewing the career-long retrospective approach of the recent Frank Lloyd Wright show, the focus falls solely on three of Mies’s key early works - the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, the German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona, and the Villa Tugendhat in Brno - all built between 1927 and 1932.
The design world has not always treated Mies kindly in the 30 years since his death, but his notions of calculated simplicity surely rise above fashion trends. At the gateway to the exhibition, his 'chaise longue' - with distinctive steel tubular frame and black leather upholstery — would have been on the to-die-for list of an 80s yuppie and still could take pride of place in a minimalist West End flat. Reproduced by furniture manufacturer Knoll in 1977 from Mies’s original 1931 designs, it bounds across seven decades to retain contemporary desirability.
In each part of the exhibition, Mies's unity of vision is given proper weight, as models, plans and photographs of the three buildings are placed beside pieces of furniture specifically designed to rest within them. The 1929 Barcelona Pavilion — with its tinted glass, different types of stone and metal, and calm interface between the building's exterior and its interior objects - has a subtle visual appeal that has outlasted many of the
other modernist classics of its day.
Elsewhere, on raised platforms that are lit from below, foot stools are literally put on pedestals. However, it's not an architectural egotism that's revealed, but an
Lounge Chair, Barcelona: Mies Van Der Rohe (Burrell Collection)
attractive discipline of self and style. The confidence
and beauty in Mies's work doesn't need to shout out loud and draw attention to itself.
The overall impression is one of clarity, with black text, white walls and white light reflecting the simplicity beloved of Mies himself and presenting his work to its best advantage. As an architect, he wanted to be known as ’good rather than interesting' and, happily, this exhibition is both. In fact, because it doesn’t just
nod blithely in the direction of a universally
acknowledged master, this could emerge as one of the most important events in Glasgow’s busy year.
Tales Of The Sands
Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery until Sat 24 Jul.
Compact and bijou: Compressed Household by Sigalit Landau
70 THE UST 27 May—10 Jun 1999
In Tales Of The Sands, eight Israeli artists freely approach and personalise the issues of religion, boundaries and history that informs their work. As Israeli art emerges onto the international stage and Ehud Barak forms his coalition government with fears and hopes rlSlng for peace, this exhibition is perhaps even more timely than the brilliant Evolution Isn’t Over Yetwhich preceded it.
Larry Abramson observes the abandoned houses of the Arab Village Tel Tsuba through a telescopic lens and repeatedly paints this subject onto a small fixed format. Wet 'finished’ pieces are then pressed with pages of the defunct paper Hadashot. The landscape layers are lifted and cracked, creating an imperfect mirror image on the old news.
These skins of meaning are related to Gilad Efrat’s paintings taken from aerial photographs of archaeological Sites. His work creates a distance from the original starting pOint — landscape — but uses both ancient and modern history. It's a struggle between a pure painting and a landscape where the
indiVidual’s perception itself is politicised by the subject. Micha Ullman’s installation uses 200 kilos of red sand from Tel AVIv, whilst Moshe Ninio presents her Red Rug and other work shown at the Mary Faou2i gallery in 1997. Orange.- Kytheria from 1996 is a Video piece filmed through a honey jar at the rebUilt shopping centre at Dizingoff followmg a terrorist bombing. Traces of passers-by are captured in the honey-like Oil, while the brand name 'Kytheria’ links us to the namesake island, its myth and the cult of Aphrodite
Sagalit Landau followed her 1997 success at Documenta X and the Venice Biennale With Victory in the 1999 'Open' Times/Artangel commission She is uncompromising and intUitiVe in her installations, and it Will be interesting to see how she deals With the gallery's limits
Other artists showmg are Daganit Berest, Joshua Borkovsky and Itzhak Dan2iger, and the exhibition is accompanied by a free programme of Israeli and Palestinian films. (Will Silk)
Edinburgh: National Portrait Gallery until Sun 17 Oct whit
Among all the arse-porridge spouted by ageing Scottish literary types in tweed jackets, one sure-fire way to cause a stir in their sporrans is to take in Vain the names of the sacred Scots double act of Rabbie Burns and dear old Walter Scott. While there's nothing inherently wrong in the outp0urings of either, it’s the untalented acolytes buying into the mythology of it all who need a stiff kick up the jacksy. Judging by this heroically titled exhibition, it would seem to have affected painters as well as hacks. Flame-haired lassies, dogs on the glen and square-jawed lairds dominate. Why, one can almOst hear the skirl of the pipes sounding over the rolling clouds and tartan hordes just like a Big Country B-side. A couple of cartoons aside, it's all pretty humourless stuff, borne out of a deep-set insecurity with its lot. On this showing, Scott-land isn't so much made of girders as that ever- elusive Scotch mist. (Neil Cooper)
lan Breakwell: Death's Dance Floor
Glasgow: Street Level until Sat 26 Jun ssxw
From Danse Macabre to Death Disco, this show by Ian Breakwell is a contemporary take on the Dance of Death. These days we're most likely to associate dancing skeletons with Mexico’s celebration of the Day of the Dead, but Breakwell draws attention to a rich seam of European imagery such as the nursery rhyme 'Ring-A-Roses’ and the 16th century woodcuts of Hans Holbein
Breakwell is a writer, artist, diarist and filmmaker With a long career of groundbreaking subject matter. The argument he presents in this series of work is that we have lost touch With the Vital imagery that allowed our ancestors to talk about and laugh in the face of death.
The work is the result of residencies at Durham Cathedral and the Anatomy Department at Cardiff University. Inkjet prints reveal the skull beneath the skin; found photographs show the lost lives of strangers; and a lightbox installation, With accompanying
soundtrack, links the religious roots of this theme with a modern sensibility. The final week of the exhibition will feature life-sized skeletal images movmg across the gallery walls — prOVing that, after all, the dead can dance. (MOira Jeffrey)
The Hinge: Ian Breakwell (Street Level)