PHILIP REEVES: A RETROSPECTIVE Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, Thu 11 Oct-Sat 22 Dec.
Shape and colour may be the predominant considerations when we look at fine art. But how sublime is texture? With many of Philip Reeves’ prints coming together at the Hunterian in a watershed retrospective, you don’t have to touch his work to virtually feel its surface. This tactile element, integrated with abstract design, is indeed what partially defines modern intaglio printmaking of the 20th century.
Reeves, who recently turned 70, is generally considered the most important and influential living printmaker in Scotland. ‘He is widely regarded as the father of printmaking in Scotland,’ says Hunterian curator Peter Black. These are rather grand accolades, but not given without merit.
The son of a commercial printer and proof-reader, Reeves was born July 1931 in Cheltenham. He came to Scotland in 1954 from the RCA to teach at Glasgow School of Art. Warned by a mentor that the place was full of socialists, Reeves was undeterred. He not only brought his interpretation of the ground- breaking techniques of the Continent but also a dedication which took printmaking into the school’s Fine Art Department in the 19703. He contributed mightily to the creation of Edinburgh Printmakers and Glasgow Print Studio, where he still works.
‘Philip is an example of the modern artist who uses metal-plate printmaking in a dynamic way,’ explains Black. ‘He hasn’t limited himself to the old techniques, which were essentially based on images conceived as drawings. Philip’s prints use innovative ways of shaping and marking the metal so that it gives an image, which is more like an abstract painting than it is like a drawing.’
About 50 prints covering his career since 1950 will be hung at the Hunterian with some early works
Structural Duo, 2000, etching and aquatint
inspired by travels near Caithness. Evident are the effects of ‘open’ biting, where a portion of the plate is first washed with acid, thus exposing the metal’s grain in unanticipated ways, before a more controlled etching is done.
Many of his most striking prints, however, come from 1980 onwards. His Fragment series uses found objects, such as a jagged steel gasket or other industrial jetsam, ‘etched’ as it were by nature. A piece like Academy offers dense layering and earth tones, while the boldly coloured rectangles of his most recent prints, Key, for example, are similar to the output of his much younger 21 st century contemporaries, such as Ian McNicol and Stuart Webb.
‘In the end,’ Reeves recently told professor Duncan Macmillan, director of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery (which will showcase the artist’s paintings next month), ‘it is a matter of. . . making things that are slightly off-balance. That is more interesting. You have to work at [that]. It is more difficult to introduce something that might upset things a little.’
(Barry Shelby) I Gallery talks on Phil/p Reeves' work Will be conducted at 7pm on Wed 17 8 37 Oct and 74 3; 28 Nov.
TOTAL OBJECT COMPLETE WITH MISSING PARTS
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 28 Oct 0...
The talking point at the opening of Total Ob/ect Complete With Missing Parts was undoubtedly Nedko Solakov's A Life (Black And White) With two painters constantly repainting the walls of the exhibition space in black and white. The initial inclination was to dismiss this seemingly pretentious work yet it proved difficult to feign indifference; the piece was both engaging and infuriating.
In the context of Beckett's writing. the central theme of the exhibition. Solakov's work had even more resonance on a second visit: the painters (supposedly endlessly repeating their absurdist performance
throughout the exhibition) were absent.
replaced by a sign reading ‘Back In Five Minutes'.
Joao Penalva's bathetic Mister. lln coiitrast to work inspired by the formal, stylistic aspects of Beckett's work, such as Fiona Banner's
88 THE LIST 4-18 Oct 2001
Punctuation) Juxtaposes the absurd —‘ a talking shoe ~ With a narrative of poignancy. memory and loss thereby addressing human. emotional themes Often overlooked in dry. academic readings of the writer. Similarly. Susan Philips/ stripped-do\.vn singing seems vulnerable and fragile despite an unselfconscious. adolescent conﬁdence.
Elsewhere. Mariele Neudecker's Bernini-esque ‘divrne light' is rendered Romantic camp-kitsch through three- dimensional, tangible rays pouring through model church Windows. In relation to Beckett. Neudecker's work is a perfect paradox ~ a contemporary take on the old art historical oxymoron — the guest to represent ‘the sublime'. which by definition cannot be represented.
Taken literally. the Total Object Complete With Missing Parts of the exhibition title might be found in Rachel Whiteread's work. But this exhibition seeks not to illustrate Beckett's work but to consider the inherent problems and contradictions of fixed interpretation. It conclusions are demanded by the audience here
Nedko Solakov’s engaging and infuriating A Life (Black And White)
Beckett's own Stories And Texts For Nothing prowdes an appropriately inconclusive lyet brutally finali response in a dialogue between mothei and son: "‘I-Iow can the sky be blue?" the boy asks. “l-‘uck off," the mother replies." (Susannah Thompson)
News from the world of art
THE FINAL PHASE OF THE Fruitmarket Gallery's NOrthern Lights public art project by Peter Fink was unveiled last week. Along with the regularly changing colours inspired by the aurora bOrealis on the east and west root and lift shaft. a light pavement now runs along the length of the gallery's facade. Permanently on View. the artwork can be observed from dusk until dawn.
GLASGOW’S SCOTLAND Street School Museum reopens on Friday 5 October after extensive refurbishment. The Grade A listed building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1904 which houses archive material on education, now boasts a lift, audio-visual theatre with video presentations and a combined shop and self- service cafe. The reopening also sees an exhibition of traditional and contemporary crafts by students from six of Glasgow’s colleges. See Art listings.
A SILENT ART AUCTION AND exhibition of contemporary art is to take place on Saturday 6 October at Auchendennan House in Arden. aimed at invoking a powerful force for peace. Meditations On World Peace will 3e opened by the Scottish actor David Hayman and features work by Barbara Beyer. Sandy Grant. Renny Nisbet and Inge Panneels. All proceeds raised will go to the Scottish Kadampa Peace Temple which is part of a worldwide endeayOur to burld Buddhist peace temples and Spirit Aid 2002. a global mLISiC event dedicated to world peace. FOr further information call 0781 1 79674-7.
A ONE DAY FORUM FOR curators and artists will take place at Dundee’s DCA cinema on Friday 19 October to examine and explore progressive curatorial practice. Chaired by artist, filmmaker and curator Mike Stubbs, the panel includes experienced curators Smith + Fowle, Eddie Berg, Vicki Lewis, Gavin Wade and Caz McIntee. For more information call 01382 606220.
Northern Lights Project, Peter Fink, 2001