Edinburgh: Dean Gallery until Sun 26 Mm****
It would be one of the most unnerving places to be trapped in. Imagine being caught in a Magritte painting — a landscape where heads are abbreviated to stumps, or a balcony where a group of coffins is arranged vertically as if posing for a family portrait. Even the thought of raining men is hardly enticing: Magritte's po-faced, bowler-hatted office types raining down from the skies are hardly the stuff of fantasies.
For all this, Magritte is undoubtedly the artist behind some of the 20th century's most familiar and influential imagery. Outsize apples, cotton wool clouds floating across a bedroom wall, heads shrouded in sheets. In painting such pictures, he went public with his imagination and, let's face it, everyone's imagination throws up some weird imagery from time to time.
This is a large exhibition and it offers a chance at least to try and get a handle of what Magritte was about. Originating from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, the show brings together some of his most well-known works. Although they look good in the Dean Gallery, it is tricky even to locate a 'handle', because Magritte was a man who consciously dodged definition.
What’s clear is that Magritte didn't have a great technique. His paint work is dully matter-of-fact; it is almost as if he painted by numbers. There is a resulting chilliness to his paintings, which appear devoid of emotion, stripped bare of any softness. Women's bodies are reproduced in segments, choppy grey seas act as a backdrop to mannequin-like bodies. In The Dominion Of Light you do get a rare intriguing romantic moodiness. Beneath a blue sky of cotton-wool clouds lies a
' "I", it!“ T" '4»
darkened row of houses illuminated by a single street
Of course Magritte was frequently out to disturb. In The Rape, a face of a woman is described by using breasts as eyes and genitalia as a mouth. It says simply that, for men, women can be viewed as literally 'sex on legs'. It doesn’t make for easy viewing, but then Magritte was never after chocolate-box fame. Good for him. (Susanna Beaumont)
Leonardo de Scratchio
Edinburgh: Stills Gallery Cafe until Sat 29 Jan *krk
You'd think an exhibition called Lap/and . . . Jesus, Mary And Joseph would be chock-a-block with snowy delights and festive fare. Which, on closer inspection, it is. Sort of. That is, if your idea of a festive treat is a picture of the Queen with flashing red eyes, a Feng Shui Deathcamp and the latest single by the charmingly named Cunts In Wheelchairs. Or there’s a toy racing track game with special markings of 20th century icons (Bolan, Camus, Diana) who‘ve been immortalised by dying in car crashes. Or a print etched with the legend-cum-homage Tracey Emin Is A Beautiful Wanker.
Made by a range of Scotland-based artists, all the work on show is for sale. Some works are small and imperfectly formed, others big and clever-clever. All are very, very funny, put together by
the sort of Situationist pranksters who read The Idler to impress women at the launderette. Most notable of these is Ross Birrell, who has produced his very own wrapping paper to encourage the giving of gifts (preferably his Ellis Island Immigration Test and the aforementioned drawing of a Feng Shui Deathcamp).
There are elements too of smart-arse nostalgia in Dada Snowscene — a dinky glass ball that you shake with a miniature toilet in it — while the flashing razor-blade postcard of Un Chien Andalou makes one wince just thinking about the eyeball scene in Bunuel’s film. And whose heart doesn’t go pitter-pat recalling the 1972 Olympic Games with Teenage Love For Olga Korbut?
Maybe this sort of stuff isn't exactly ideal to play pass the parcel. But go on, get something for someone you don't like. (Neil Cooper)
News and views from the world of art.
THE SCOTTISH ARTS Council has announced the first shortlist for its Creative Scotland Awards 2000. The shortlist of 51 artists is drawn from the fields of music, dance, literature and the visual arts, with artists Ross Sinclair, Nathan Coley, Moyna Flannigan, Calum Colvin and Wendy McMurdo among those featured. An independent panel chaired by Diana Rigg will announce the fourteen selected artists on 25 Jan. Each will be awarded £25,000.
GLASGOW-BASED ARTIST Jim Lambie, who is known for covering the floors of galleries with a garish array of coloured stripes, has moved on to wall-mounted pieces. In a show in London’s Sadie Coles HQ gallery, Lambie has covered two record turntables with pink and silver glitter and attached them to the wall. Lambie has also constructed a wall display from leather jackets and a floor piece made from LP covers with the likes of Bryan Ferry and the Bee Gees painted out.
ONE OF THIS year’s most intriguing exhibitions looks set to happen at lnverleith House in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. Hans van der Leensaland was a Dutch monk who had a thing about numbers. His obsession with numerals and the resulting artworks intrigued a host of American artists in the 605 — we wait to see if he will engage a 21st century audience. The exhibition opens on 29 Jan.
IN THE NAME of tradition, pop along to the National Gallery in Edinburgh to view the annual airing of Turner’s watercolours. Forming the Vaughan Bequest, the watercolours can be shown only once a year, in January, as Sir Henry Vaughan believed this month's light shows the work at its best. Also on display are two recently acquired watercolours painted by Turner to illustrate Sir Walter Scott’s The Provincial Antiquities And Picturesque Scenery Of Scotland.
AS TO MORE contemporary art, the Edinburgh-based artist Beverley Hood is showing her latest work of digital photography and computer prints at Edinburgh College Of Art from Tue 11-Fri 28 Jan.
Jim Lambie's turntables
7—20 Jan 2000 THE LIST 59