Collins Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Mar 0...

ART/fecture seeks to promote a wider public understanding of architecture through art. investigating the relationship between the two disciplines along the way.

Ben Johnson stands out. His stark. precise acrylic canvases at first seem to be cold, perfect examinations of space. but Johnson's obvious love for architectural form seeps through and he captures something essential about the rooms he paints. with light and line evoking a moment in time as well as delineating space.

Sarah Forest achieves a similar effect through very different means. Using films of figures moving in space as source material, her canvases place human blurs against hard lines. marking the passage of time where Johnson freezes a single moment. Time is. again, central to Lucy Gibson's work. Her interactive piece Wandersmanner traces pedestrian routes through urban space. tracking passable paths in yellow lines. while spoken narratives examine the relationship between memOry and surroundings. Louise Fraser focuses on

sees cornices flip into skirting boards. hinting at Fraser's total immersion in her surroundings. interior and exterior merging into an intimate impression of place. This rooting of people in place is picked up by Marian Denise Campbell's Triptych Wall. a reconstruction of a wall and doorway in tightly stretched canvas. Modelled after a tenement flat. the wall is a solid. comforting.

Deconstruction by Louise Fraser

through the doorway. and the fragility of its construction is revealed.

This is a show that more than meets its remit to awaken awareness of the built environment. Leaving the gallery. the viewer is given a new vocabulary with which to examine their surroundings. and granted a deeper understanding of possible and extant interactions with the built environment.



MERLIN JAMES: EASEL PAINTING Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Thu 8 Apr .0.

Untitled It looks like the Talbot Rice Gallery has emptied the contents of its vaults onto the walls. At first glance its current show appears to be a collection of paintings by parochial artists imitating their betters spanning at least the past two centuries. In fact. it's a semi-

memory too. with a tricksy print that



Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, until Sat 27 Mar 0...

The name says it all. Like footprints in the snow. the marks left by copper plates or wood pressed firmly into thick. soft paper are delicate and strong. This exhibition celebrates the imprints left by leading Italian graphic artists and works by Scottish artists who participated in the Triennale lnternazione d'Incisione.

Scotland‘s contribution includes John Byrne. Elizabeth Blackadder and John Bellany. The Iatter's Conger Eel Woman sneaks out at you from the corner as the woman with an eel wrapped around her neck and body looks on with a sly glint. In the hallway three bright works by John McLean resonate it's just a shame they're a little tucked away.

Upstairs the Italians really get a chance to shine. Andrea Lelario's fine illustrational pieces conjure up a gothic. fairytale feel with intricate details cut across by dark. spiky Tim Burton-style trees. Guido Navaretti's Croda di Barnabo phases millions of tiny black marks into white ones. evoking something of an Escher design where sky, sea and wave meet and become each other.

Although the works could do with a bit more space to breathe. they stand strong and distinct, revealing a graphic art community in Italy striding along, leaving various fresh marks behind them. (Ruth Hedges)


«1“ \

Croda di Barnabo by Guido Navaretti

evocation of home. until you pass

(Jack Mottram)

Sosnowska’s disorientating installation

INSTALLATION MONIKA SOSNOWSKA Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sun 28 Mar .000

It's almost as if the entire 19th century building which houses the Modern Institute is caving in on itself. On entering the gallery. you discover there is no longer a gallery. but in its place a dark. uninviting labyrinth of corridors. The overpowering smell of institutional orange. brown gloss paint adds the sensOry element to this most physical of experiences.

Making you feel like Alice in Wonderland in Being John Malkovich. the ceiling oppressiver closes in. to the point at which you almost end up on your hands and knees. The structure snakes it way round the gallery's central column. while optical boxes and false corridors disorientate you further. Apertures let in chinks of light and wider openings offer escape routes for the claustrophic.

As in previous works (a corridOr with a false perspective at the Venice Biennale: an unenterable passage with doors in Istanbul. both 2003). Polish artist Monika Sosnowska works with spaces and architecture to transform the physical space into a cerebral space. Through her manipulation of materials. the familiar is not so familiar, which in turn destabilises our visual expectations. This is a unique and engaging encounter. (Helen Monaghan)

retrospective by contemporary artist and critic Merlin James.

So he's being ironic then? Errr, no. He's very sincere. In both roles James has stirred up controversy for his apparent conseivatism: he has come down hard on an ignorance of art history. the fickle use of different media and the ease of production that characterises much that is fashionable in art. Instead he advocates the importance of painting as a discrete medium and concerns himself with its formal nuts and bolts (such as composition. colour, and texture). Included in the show are still lives. landscapes. portraits and abstracts thickly worked in tertiary colours sometimes with the addition of sand. making it look as if they have been painted with cement. His oddly anachronistic subject matter is. as he says. ‘prosaic'. thereby leaving the way clear to concentrate on the formal possibilities of the medium unencumbered by the cheap thrills of more engaging content.

It seems to be a peculiarly bloodless exercise. Make no mistake. James is a serious artist and an artiCulate and perSLiasive critic. Painting aficionados may love this exhibition. But I can't help feeling that he is backing a horse by asserting the importance of certain traditional values in art that has already bolted. (Kate Tregaskis)

18 Mar 1 Apr 2004 THE LIST 91