City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Sat 5 Jul-Sat 27 Sep

Jon Schueler, a contemporary of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, might achieve in death what largely eluded him during his lifetime: consideration as an equal to those eminent artists. When and if that comes about, this exhibition at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre might prove pivotal in the posthumous appreciation of Schueler’s art. Curated by Richard Ingleby of the Ingleby Gallery, the 51 works represent the first such retrospective in Britain.

Schueler, who spent much time in Scotland, was born in Wisconsin in 1916. He moved to California and San Francisco after the Second World War, enrolling at the California School of Fine Art. There, he studied under Richard Diebenkorn and Clyfford Still before eventually settling in New York City, painting Still-inspired oils and moving in bohemian circles that included Rothko, de Kooning and Klein.

‘This is the first time any of his early works have been shown here,’ says Richard Ingleby. ‘They

A Yellow Sun (detail), Arcueil, 1958

still look incredibly fresh, revealing that the artist was an original voice of that time.’

Critical to Schueler’s output - as well as the primary reason for his notoriety in the UK - were his frequent and extended stays near Mallaig in the Western Highlands, which began in the late 19505 and continued until his death in 1992.

For those who were born under it, the northern sky doesn't hold the same allure as for those of us who have travelled from more equatorial latitudes to see it. Schueler saw in the sky the dramatics and mysteries of nature. While most popular artists in the mid-20th century lost touch with the natural world, Schueler realised the pure abstraction inspired by it.

‘My “avant-garde" was to paint, not nature, but about nature,’ Schueler wrote in the Sound of Sleaf: A Painter’s Life, a remarkable book finally published in 1999.

Indeed, Schueler’s attachment to Scotland and to painting from nature left him well out of step with pop- influenced abstract art that dominated the New York (and world) art scene for much of his life. He stuck to his guns, with little regard for the Jasper Johns of the day, and suffered financially as a result.

‘My work had [sic] received very little publicity. Without the publicity no one knows about it,’ he wrote optimistically in 1979. ‘My book will be the publicity.’ Although practically impossible to find a few years ago, the Sound of Sleat deserves to be deemed a classic and belongs in the syllabus of anyone with more than a passing interest in art.

So much more than just good PR for his work, it is arguably the best book written in English about the artist’s life - whatever the final critical appraisal of Schueler’s paintings. (Barry Shelby)



Venice Biennale, Venice, until Sun 2 Nov .00

Jim Lambie's Paradise Garage

There has been much negative press about this year’s Venice Biennale. The Guardian’s Adrian Searle described the inaugural Scottish pavilion as a ‘disappointing group show’. So is there an element of truth to what he said?

Away from the main Biennale sites, the work of selected artists Jim Lambie, Claire Barclay and Simon Starling is housed in a neglected 17th century palace. Making the boldest statement is Jim Lambie. If you’re expecting to see his trademark psychedelic floor, Lambie doesn’t disappoint. Black and white stripes arranged in zigzag formation, art deco style, reflect the gondolier’s attire. Gloss-painted domestic doors and mirrors are compressed in folds like those of a concertina. Given such ornate surroundings, Lambie’s sculptures complement, rather than clash with, the space, serving as a contemporary reflection of the former exuberance of the original decor.

Simon Starling’s Island for Weeds (Prototype) refers to proposal for a floating island of rhododendrons on Loch Lomond which never got the go ahead. The rhododendron, which has informed previous works, was brought from Spain to Scotland in the 18th century. Now considered a weed, Starling questions cultivation and extermination. However, it is the ideas and thought process behind his work that holds the most interest. The finished piece, as is the case here, is disappointing.

Similarly, Claire Barclay’s work is not immediately clear. Onto a wooden structure resembling a theatrical backdrop, she has recreated the design of the silk wall coverings of the palazzio onto linen. Like previous works, she comments on the idea of craft and the actual process and production.

All in all though, the Scots done good. Disappointed? Only a little. (Helen Monaghan)

Artbeat News from the world of art

The New Arrival by the Singh Sisters


twins, the Singh Sisters, has been acquired by Paintings in Hospitals Scotland (PiHS). The charity, which puts works of art into hospitals and healthcare centres in Scotland, has a highly regarded collection of contemporary art, ranging from paintings and prints to photographs and textiles. The new addition, entitled The New Arrival, (pictured) by Amrit and Rabindra Kaur, was commissioned by the organisation in an attempt to address the need for more works relevant to Scotland's ethnic minorities. The painting celebrates the South Asian community and depicts a modern Asian family returning home with their newborn baby. For more information about the charity contact Kirsten Lloyd on 0131 448 2575 or write to Paintings in Hospitals Scotland, 32 Dryden Road, Loanhead, Midlothian, EH20 9L2.

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