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Alexander Kennedy examines the temporal loops, stylistic games and political consequences of the work of Lucy McKenzie.

he recent programme of exhibitions at the

Talbot Rice has presented some of the

strongest and most memorable shows in Edinburgh of late. Pat Fisher. the curator. has managed to create an environment that most artists thrive in. Now. Fisher has invited the Glasgow-born artist Lucy McKenzie back to the gallery after her successful installation in the Round Room last year. a smaller space off the main exhibition rooms. The Round Room isn‘t necessarily a project space or a testing ground before the main gallery is offered. but McKenzie‘s small installation introduced ideas that she has been exploring over the last few years. ideas that will be on show this autumn in a mini- retrospective: Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem.

There is utopia and melancholia in abundance in the canvases of Lucy McKenzie. passing through romance and its stark opposite. Her paintings examine the use of style. ideologies trapped in paint. drawing on the weight of Europe‘s recent political past. and the artistic avant-garde‘s attempts to both record and comment on it. In this sense. the works are born out of an awareness of failure. emerging from

the debris of rhetoric. where the specifics of

arguments are forgotten but their formal stylistics remain as empty logos and typefaces. It isn’t easy to

see what McKenzie is driving at: accused of

smacking of 'free love and socialism' by one critic. Mckenzie's work is an examination of how her personal desires inform her interpretation of radical poses. Desire. politics and personal identifications become conflated. and a sexed-up politics is the result. Eastern Bloc realities somehow become translated into guilty fantasies; the climate of all pervasive paranoia and suppression by the state

88 THE LIST 5—19 Oct 2006

becomes a sexualised sublimation. eaten like air by the artist.

The new paintings on show are a departure from her earlier 'second modernism' canvases. which drew on high Iiuropean Modernism. This is a theme that can

now be found in much of the work coming out of

studios in (iIasgow. but McKen/ie was at the forefront of this trend. If melancholia is a refusal to mourn that which one has lost. then these canvases

dripped with this refusal. In a country chock full of

the multicoloured gloop of the Scottish (‘oIotIrists when everyone else in Iiurope was opting for clean simplicity. these canvases acted like belated attempts to tackle the situation. mixing the avant-garde styles of the early 20th century with more contemporary concerns. The canvases were not intended to act as a cure. to remedy Scotland's missing high Modernism. but were temporal contradictions. demonstrating that linear history and meaning hemorrhage in the present. that style is always empty.

At her recent exhibition at Metro Pictures. New York. McKen/ie exhibited large canvases influenced by Herge‘s 'Ii'nlin comics. In some of the works on paper Tintin‘s cartoon body is 'naturaIised‘. with his flat pink skin tones softened and given a more recognisable Caucasian hue. Iilsewhere. characters form the artist‘s life are translated into Herge-Iike caricatures. Again. styles and histories are re- appropriated and made to temporarily and awkwardly sit in the present. This demonstrates not only that art history is 'made‘. but that subjectivity and personal history are also myths that we generate after the fact.

Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh, 20 Nov until 9 Dec.




* Kllllng ‘l'lmo Graham Fagan and Graham Eatough collaborate on an excellent project that brings together theatrical elements. installation. performance art and sculpture. The artists set up dramatic situations. referencing plays by Osborne. Beckett. Checkhov and Pinter. creating a fluid narrative that move through past. present and future. Dundee Contemporary Art, Dundee, Sat 9 Sep-Sun 5 Nov 2006

* Group? An exhibition of paintings - landscapes. seascapes. cityscapes and bodyscapes by Glasgow-based artists - in the foyer of an office block near the moton/vay. It may not sound very attractive. but the paintings are worth the hike. Stuart Mackenzie’s tonal seascapes and Martin Mclnally’s romantic skyscrapers dominate the landascape. See review. page 89. The Pentagon. Glasgow, until Fri 3 Nov.

# Shifting Focus After representing Estonia at last year’s Venice Biennale. Mark Raidpere presents new film installations featuring his mother and father. where the players attempt to communicate using that most unwieldy machine to batter information into each other - language. Tramway. Glasgow. Fn' 20 Oct—Sun 19 Nov.

* Lucy McKenzie This is just to give you plenty of warning. so that you can get the dates in your diary. McKenzie will exhibit new works on paper and canvas in her first major solo show in Scotland after Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem. The gallery space will also be ‘sublet’ to Beca Lipscombe. Edinburgh- based Dada's Boy Keith Farquhar shows new work in the Round Room. See preview. opposite. The Talbot Ftloe Gallery, The University of Edinburgh, Mon 20 Nov— Sat 9 Dec.