GEORGE SHAW: WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER
DCA, Dundee, until Sun 21 Mar 0...
It’s a grey day on the edge of a pub driveway somewhere in the Midlands. A big swathe of tarmac leading up to The Hawthorne Tree is echoed by the oppressive sky and edged with dark conifers. No one is about - a heavy presence of absence bears down. This is George Shaw’s world. The deserted landscapes of suburbia are his muse and treated with befitting reverence with many pieces forming triptychs entitled Scenes From the Passion. These still scenes of pubs, estates, paths and garages are painted with meticulous and calculated control in Humbrol enamel by the lad who grew up in the Tile Hill area of Coventry.
Shaw has a remarkable sense for light. Each painting captures particular moments in time which connect in some profound way with a collective memory. This is why they are so evocative. Realism, mystery and a remembered past come together in a powerful synthesis so that you are struck by sudden nostalgia when seeing the last light of day hitting the tops of trees in Late; or a bright blue shelter
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Scenes from Passion: Blossomiest Blossom
sun-warmed tarmac and hear the quiet of a summer’s day before school’s out. Shaw is the Hopper of Suburbia in his scenes of intensified reality.
And there is something charged in the dreary desolation. The decay of fallen leaves collecting against a curb, a path littered with paper leading into the woods. Then Dennis Potter’s famous last interview with Melvin Bragg, while high on morphine, suddenly comes
bedroom window and seeing a cherry tree more vividly than ever before. Shaw’s painting Blossomiest Blossom captures such backyard brilliance.
The potential of Britain’s anonymous suburbs have provided inspiration to musicians from the Pet Shop Boys and the Smiths to Pulp, but no one has conjured that strange, alluring and lonely ambiguity in paint with such potency as George Shaw. It’s as
baking in the heat in Bus Stop at the Top. You can almost smell the
HEATHER CRAIG: CONVERSIONS Total Kunst@Forest, Edinburgh, until Sun 29 Feb .0.
With help from a grant from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Total Kunst's new season of exhibitions continues With a solo show of work by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Heather Craig. A mixture of sculptures made from everyday objects alongside some original drawngs. the collection has the experimental feel of work in progress but offers a good opportunity to see a developing local talent.
The room itself is light and airy. with stripped pine floors that intersect nicely With a sculpture made out of coloured pencils. These have been glued together to make two columns. which are set diagonally between the wall and a mirror on the floor to reflect all the angles and details. Other pieces include a dead raven formed out of obsessiver ripped up matches — the black-grey stems from books of lights recreate the soft texture of feathers. and infuse the work With realism. Craig's pencil and fine line drawnigs depict mostly organic structures while an artist's palette. made tip of daubs of colour painted directly onto the wall. echoes the unusual shape of the mirror below. iRachael Street)
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to mind. In the shadow of death Potter described looking out of the
thrilling as it is unnerving. (Ruth Hedges)
SCU'. PTURF BJORN DAHLEM: LOST IN WERNER Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sun 29 Feb 000
The first of the three pieces that make up Bjorn Dahleiii's Lost in Iii/erner is a great big polyhedron fashioned from slats of blond wood. with strip lights gaffer- taped to the supports Suspended inside is a seat. rigged up with oft-cuts of carpet and polystyrene packaging and a han of bare bulbs. The whole shebang rests on four pristine Jars of pickled onions. Surrounding this prototype escape pod is another structure. made from the same tin‘ber off-cuts and office lighting that claiiibers Jauntily over the galleiy n'xalls. Both are. almost above all. a laugh. It's not ltlSl down to the clash of sci fi theme and lo—fi materials. either.
Dahlem's odd structures are suffused with the sort of garage science certainty that sees backwoods inventors make headlines with their patent-pending cold fusion machines. These devices never run but exeryone watching hopes. secretly, that they WI”. Like a particularly obtuse Heath- Robinsen apparatus. the fun is in the fruitless fathoii‘ing.
In the next room, through a (loonyay remodelled by Dahleiii as a set-dressing on a no-budget remake of 200 7: A Space Odyssey. a third structure stands. this llll‘C with a Jar of red cabbage for a base. Here the pseu<lo—scientific inguiiy takes the form of lab apparatus rather than a foray into deep space. but the curious pluckiness of the obiect is the same. and again it seems that Dahlem is suggesting a new science. x'xhere complex deyices can be fashioned from sheer bloody -ll‘ll‘.(l(}(l belief. and a rough sketch of their physical forii‘. iJack MOlll'lel‘i
Dahlem’s curious constructions
PAINTINGS JP MUNRO ALEX POLLARD é. TONY SWAIN
Transmission, Glasgow, until Sat 13 Mar 000.
The Transmission is not a gallery one tends to associate with painting, but here. instead of the axiikward assemblies. unfathomable constructions and outre ()DIOCIS usuaily found in the artist-run space. is a trio of painters.
JP Ivlunro paints VleEllll scenes that seem to be drawn from alternate histories. while bluntly referencing real n~oxements in art. Initiation of the 33rd Degree of the Scottish Lodge sees Masonic gentlemen in heated argument with an aiiiiitated skeleton. It looks like the work of a court reporter in the grips of an 'nallucinatoiy fever. dropping Symbols unreadable to the uninitiated. The i't/finerai’s. meanwhile. is a doomy landscape. the interior of a cane briii‘ming with stalactites.
Work by Alex Pollard
Alex Pollard lights on the historical too. In Wren. a pensive Robin Hood is dueered up with a single ‘.'.'ord of Palare. then twisted and morphed E'l Robin Hood Vortex. l‘i/e'li' Throw G/ass in Your Face alloxzis glimpses of buglers. butchers and be- smocked agrarians through dense layers of smoky black. Tony SWEIIII. iiieaiiisihile. paints oyei' newsprint collages. Goblets of text peep through the paint. and printers' ii‘arks frame the scene. It is as if Swain seeks to plant his imagined landscapes. unliker architecture and light geometric patterns in the real world of the daily news.
Each artist here deals iii layering — be it of reference and allusion. or the literal overlay in S‘NéllllS collage — and all three make history and iiieii‘ory their focus. These three artists. while making work that superficially has little Il‘ common. sit well together It ii‘akes for a thought-provoking snow iJack Mottraii