Morandi And His Time

Edinburgh: Dean Gallery, Fri 23 Oct—Sun 5 Dec.

Cézanne had Mont St Victoire and Monet had haystacks, not to mention the facade of Rouen Cathedral or his pond full of water lilies. Giorgio Morandi, however, was far more domestic in his obsession. He painted bottles, pots and jars - and more pots and more bottles and more jars.

Morandi's numerous paintings in soft browns of earthenware pots have established him as one of Italy's most famous 20th century artists. A man who produced what could be described as easy- watching art. Morandi was no artist adventurer. Compared to works by his contemporaries who tackled Futurism and Surrealism with vigour, his art was a far cry from the experimental. There was a brief flirtation with a style similar to de Chirlco's - all empty squares and menacing statues - but Morandi had no time for the antics of the

Futurists and their adoration of the machine age. At a time when numerous artists' manifestoes were in circulation, he remained resolutely independent.

As Patrick Elliott, assistant keeper at the National Gallery of Modern Art points out. Morandi was a fairly introverted artist but nonetheless one of the greats of 20th century ltalian art. Born in 1890, he became caught on painting pots and jars and ever after was dedicated to the still life genre. Even the other staples of still life, such as the apple, newspaper or the bunch of grapes, didn't get a look in. 'T he nearest he got to introducing fruit was painting a lemon squeezer,‘ says Elliott.

The exhibition of 26 paintings at the Dean Gallery is the first retrospective of Morandi's work in Scotland

Pots, bottles and jars: Giorgio Morandi's Natura Morta

since 1965, which followed his death the previous year. For Elliott, however, Morandi has been a particularly influential artist in Scotland. ’T here is a strong tradition of still life here and Morandi's quiet and domestic paintings perhaps appealed to the Presbyterian nature of Scotland,’ he believes. ‘He was particularly important to artists studying at Edinburgh College Of Art such as Gillies and McTaggart.’

The work in the exhibition is drawn from the collection of ltalian collectors Augusto and Frances Giovanardi, who began collecting Morandi's work in the 19505. And, according to Elliott, after a decline in popularity, when abstract art and expressionism ruled the day, this work is once again back in favour. (Susanna Beaumont)

Mark Fairnington's Still Life (Hummingbird Feeding No 2)

82 TIIE U81 21 Oct-4 Nov 1999


Postcards On Photography

Edinburgh: Stills Gallery until Sat 4 Dec *hk

When photography was invented in the 19th century, painting was declared dead. Now, at the close of the 20th century, painting is fighting back and we find ourselves discussing the possible demise of photography. Reports of both supposed deaths are greatly exaggerated, but what is clear is that the role of photography and of photographic galleries is being re- examined.

This is a debate which Stills has been addressing for some time. Not content with the photograph itself, the gallery often shows work by artists who refer to the medium of photography, but do so by other means. In a similar manner, this touring show from the Cambridge Darkroom Gallery looks at the photograph without including a single example of the medium. Instead, there are photo-realist paintings from the 705 and the 905, a giant sculpture of a box of slides and a pair of powder- painted powder compacts.

Photographs have answered some

basic questions about things we couldn’t previously fully fathom. If you look at early paintings of animals in motion they seem laughable and it was thanks to photographic analysis that we discovered the secrets of locomotion. Mark Fairnington's pictures play with these scientific discoveries. Only the camera could have 'discovered’ the wing movement of a feeding hummingbird, while Fairnington's paintings of insects reproduce details only available through the lens of a microscope. Jason Brooks's photo-realistic paintings require hours of labour to recreate

what could have been reproduced'

'instantaneously' by camera. Andrew Grassie works in situ to paint a detailed ’snapshot' of the gallery interior, and Alex Harley's sculpture refers to the way artists and archivists use slides to record information.

The issues referred to are in many ways long-standing. The invention of spectacles, the use of the mirror, the periscope, the telescope and the camera obscura have all profoundly affected the way we see and paint the world. We’ll continue to look at life through a lens for some time yet. (Moira Jeffrey)


Taking the pulse of the anwodd

SCOTLAND'S CHARLES ESCHE is to curate New British Art 2000 at the Tate Britain in London. Research Fellow at Edinburgh College Of Art and co-founder of Glasgow's Modern Institute, Esche is joined by Virginia Button to bring together work by twenty contemporary artists. The show is to take place from July to September and will be the Tate Britain's largest exhibition of contemporary art to date.

GLASGOW ARTISTS' COLLECT IVE, Elizabeth Go are getting about. Known for their free form installations, their latest work is for a show in Manchester called Love, speed, thrills. Curated by Tanya Leighton, one-time board member of Glasgow’s Transmission Gallery, the show also includes work by Lily van der Stokker and Mark Neville. It runs until Fri 29 Oct at Holden University at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

EDINBURGH'S STILLS GALLERY has opened its Richard Hough Resource. Housed in the basement of the building, the resource comprises digital-imaging lab, dark rooms and a project space, and is available for use by individuals through to community groups. A number of workshops are also to be held, including 'My Neighbour’s A Cyborg' and a Liquid Light Workshop. For further details call Stills on 0131 622 6200.

BEDROOMS ARE OF interest to Pia Lanzinger. The German artist, who has been artist-in-resident at Edinburgh's City Art Centre, has worked with teenage girls to get a glimpse of life beyond the bedroom door, resulting in The Girl’s Room Tour. Filling the Travelling Gallery, the show of text and photographs of everything from Boyzone posters, fluffy toys and crazily-patterned duvet covers is moving around the country. See Art Listings for details.

THE SCOTTISH ARTS Council has awarded WASPS a (1.5 million National Lottery grant to extend and improve their premises in Alexandra Parade, Glasgow. WASPS, a nationwide organisation, provides low cost studio space to artists and currently supports 750 artists in Scotland.

Girl's own room: a teenager in her bedroom photographed by Pia Lanzinger