WILL MACLEAN: DRIFTWORKS
Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, until Sun 3 Feb 000
Driftworks is a considered look at the work of Will Maclean, his first major solo outing since 1992. In a move typical of the DCA’s knack for canny curating, the viewer is guided through the themes that characterise Maclean’s recent oeuvre and allowed to trace the common ground between the broad range of sculptural pieces, paintings, collage and collected found objects. This common ground is, of course, centred on Maclean’s constantly reworked investigation into the lives of coastal people, linking together disparate concerns - lost cultures, the fate of emigres, man’s place in his environment - by homing in on the broad sweep of mythology, memory and emotion. Paradoxically, the pieces that tackle these grand themes most explicitly are intimate, claustrophobic even. The show opens with St. Kilda’s Song, a subtle, low-key assembly made from fragments of text laid over overt symbols of life on the depopulated island. On the one hand, Maclean is focusing the plight of St. Kilda’s residents as
Atlantic Messenger/Sula Sgier, 1998 by Will Maclean
their esoteric culture was consumed by more conventional mainland ways. On the other, these quiet collages are an essay on the homogeny of current mores at the expense of the diverse, co-existing lifestyles of times past. There is a problem here, however. For all Maclean’s deft aggregation of thematic concerns, there is an off-putting layer of sentimentality — a sort of arts and crafts kitsch - and a rather cloying tendency towards celebrating past glories that together serve as a distraction from the matter at hand. Thankfully, Maclean‘s larger-scale pieces manage to side-step the sickly-sweet by concentrating on more overtly intellectual concerns. In Painted Museum and Objects of Unknown Use Maclean trains his eye on perceptions of history. These works consist of exquisitely rendered fakes mingled in with found objects, all presented in the glass-topped cabinets favoured by dusty museums. Duped at first by the
standardised presentation, the viewer is left to uncover Maclean’s role as curator of an imaginary past as the apparent antiquities reveal their impractical, impossible nature.
Last comes Maclean’s new work for the show, experiments in the moving image made in collaboration with Andy Rice. Cod Requiem has an obsolete form of fish-hooks swimming in shoals through a dark, deep seascape and calls to mind both the wistful inquires into lost worlds that open the exhibition and the simultaneously playful and rigorous toying with the nature of artefacts seen in the museum-based installations.
All in all, while marred at times by a honeyed aesthetic, Maclean’s assured handling of his various concerns shines through, making Driftworks a satisfying overview of the artist’s recent work.
PAINTING SAVING FACES
Glasgow School Of Art, Glasgow, until Fri 25 Jan .000
Mazeeda was born with a tumour on the right Side of her face. The pre- operation portrait of this little girl reveals a huge swelling on her cheek. which in turn. pulls the right eyelid down. It is a harrowing image and. like the rest of the works in the exhibition. it's an image that stays with yeti.
Until recently. there was no charity devoted to research into faCial diseases. But last year, Iain Hutchison. a conSuItant in Oral and MaxillofaCial Surgery at St Bartholomew's and ROyal London Hospital set up the Saving Faces Protect. the first national charity to carry out research into the prevention and treatment of oral and laCial diseases and IHJUTIGS. Together Wllh this touring exhibition of paintings by Glasgow portrait painter Mark
Gilbert. who was resident in the unit for Over a year. the protect raises much needed awareness of these issues.
From victims of cancer of the meiith to Victims of assault. Mark Gilbert Visually recorded the patients before. during and after facial reconstruction. Every detail is registered in paint. however gruesome. The image of the shiny surgical instruments peeling back the skin from the face is brutally realistic. Pre and post-op portrarts of a victim attacked by youths using baseball bats juxtaposes a severely bruised and fractured face — moth bandaged and eyes closed — With a lace returned to 'normality'.
If we were looking at photographs. the impact would have been far less. Gilbert clearly communicates with his sitters. portraying riot only the phySical attributes but their emotional response as they adjust to their new appearance. He shows that there is a
Mazeeda (pre-op) 1999
human face behind the disfigurement. And while the images in this exhibition may disturb. upset or even nauseate. Gilbert 's ability to capture the courage and strength of the human spirit is both moving and incredibly powerful. (Helen Monaghan)
News from the world of art
THE ROYAL BANK OF
Scotland is to sponsor the first major exhibition to be shown in the restOred and refurbished Royal Scottish Academy Building. Edinburgh in August 2003. i'~/lonet: The Seine and the Sea Vetheur/ and i\’or'mandj.c
7878— 7883 organised by the National Gallery of Scotland will bring together 80 works by the great French impressionist. Claude Monet. Marking the start of a rigorous campaign of international shows which will undoubtedly pull in the crowds. Monet: The Seine and the Sea will feature landscapes and villages of Vetheuil. the Normand> coast and ponraits and still lifes as well as a Small display of works by his contemporaries Courbert. Corot and Daubigny
Artist’s Garden at V theuil, 1860 by Claude Monet
SUBMISSIONS ARE SOUGHT for the Alastair Salvesen Art Scholarship 2002. The award is open to painters living and working in Scotland, who have trained at one of the four main Scottish art colleges, aged between 25—35 years old, and who have over the last three years at least, made the transition from college to outside working environment. Up for grabs is a cash prize of £10,000, with the winner required to use the scholarship to travel. Entry forms are available from the Royal Scottish Academy, 17 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 38G or by telephoning 0131 558 7097. Deadline for applications is 7 January 2002. THE SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL. and the British COuncil Scotland recently announced increased funding for a Scottish presence in at the Venice Biennale 2003 where artists from over <20 c0untries hold five-month exhibitions in specially constructed pavilions. FOilOWIng on from the international success of Douglas Gordon. Callum Innes and Christine Borland. it is expected that Scotland’s [)ElHlIOIl will showcase a new crop of talent.
113 Dec 201)? .1 Jan 9917'? THE LIST 87