PRIN l MAKING. PI IOTOOHAPI IY. INSTALLATION GRAHAM FAGEN Doggerfisher Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 9 Dec 2006 0000
Graham Fagen has painted the walls in the main gallery black, immediately setting an ethereal, theatrical tone to this dimly lit exhibition, entitled ‘Closer’. Three silkscreen prints, simplistic white linear studies of 18th century ships are initially shown in succession, ‘Nancy’, ‘Bell’ and ‘Roselle’, each bearing details of their separate departs from Scotland to Jamaica in 1786. These seemingly fictional ships are plucked from a small but significant moment in Robert Burns’ history. His near emigration from Scotland to Jamaica resulted in three bookings, one on each of these ships, the first two falling through for insignificant reasons, the third because his first published poems finally brought him success within Scotland just before it set sail. Complementing these works is ‘West Coast Looking West (Atlantic)’, a seductive, crisp colour photograph of a timeless sparkling seascape.
There is tragic sadness in its beauty, pure sky and sea so full of hope and promise, seemingly depicting Burns’ fantasy of a journey into the great unknown that never materialised. Fagen creates a romantic, if sentimental, sense of mystery with this group of works, reminding us that twists of fate can intervene when least expected — are we really so in control of our own histories? ‘Clean Hands Pure Heart’, facing the group, adds a much-needed sinister dimension. A colour photograph of a faceless toothy white grin emerges from a pure black background mocking us like the devil at work or perhaps the face of fate itself, meddling and messing with best-laid plans.
The back room features two unrelated, appealingly obscure works. ‘Annual Perennial’, reveals Fagen’s continuing interest in the localised significance of plants; a bronze cast of a spindly, pathetic fir tree decorated with coloured fairy lights sitting on cheap table, a tragic/comic contrast to the lush Christmas trees already beginning to decorate the shops. In the colour photograph ‘Self Portrait as the Devil’, Fagen is dressed as a harlequin, identifying himself with this sinister mute character who constantly shifts between scenes and situations as if up to no good. There is a compelling theatricality here which echoes that of Clean Hands Pure Heart, revealing Fagen’s fascination with the dark, unexplainable forces at work under the surface of ordinary life. (Rosie Lesso)
PAINTING CALLUM INNES - FROM MEMORY Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 19 Nov .0000
Let's Just get it out the way quickly —- there are some bad paintings in this mini- retrospective of Edinburgh-based Callum Innes at the Fruitmarket Gallery. Well. two at a push. This exhibition continues to receive such high praise (he‘s both a ‘painter's painter' and an 'art historians painter'I that it is difficult to find fault with these untouchable works. The artist has set out his agenda. stuck with it and now arrived at a moment of equippise where it Just works.
The paintings in the downstairs gallery are all of the same high standard. and act as an impressive introduction to Innes' style. Large canvases glowing With their own hard won inner luminosity fill the space. each piece dealing With the same difficult task of keeping form in check. refusing to let it become either more surface or a dead figure. This is the unapologetic language of High Modernism. This work is still valid and important because it is very good. If it wasn't. it would not only be void. it would be a dead he.
Innes is that most rare creature an artist who can edit his own work. Not only do we see the best examples from his oeuvre here. but his paintings contain distilled passages that reference the best elements of the last 100 years of painting. It's aimost impossible to find fault with the myriad formalist tricks and tropes that he employs ta/ithin these ‘galleiy machines': the; are post modern collages. but as seamless and effortless as the ‘Iattest minimalist plane and the most polished pop surface. iAIexander Kennedyi
VIDEO INSTALLATION CEZARY BODZIANOWSKI Sorcha Dallas Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 25 Nov 0000
A convex mirror throws back your warped image from the corner of a space. You could be standing on the platform at Cowcadens watching yourself waiting for the tube. or standing in Cezary Bodzianowski's exhibition at Sorcha Dallas Gallery Next to the silvery slice of a reflective globe. a mocked-up CCTV screen instantly replays and records where you would be if you were waiting for that train, but instead Bodzianowski's there on the platform. cheekily dotting his hat to the camera and to you.
This simple. silly action is one of the new video works that the Polish-based artist has made for this exhibition. four confident and effortless responses to the situation he found himself in — an artist in a foreign country asked to make work. His 'Chapeau Beaux' works perfectly in this context (just around the corner from St Enoch's underground station). effortlessly twisting an everyday situation into a clever performance. The prying eye of the camera becomes an extension of the artist's super ego. an externalised and mocked-up self awareness that becomes complicit in this narcissistic tryst. The Viewer is merely an oniooker.
In the gallery next door. a Scottish living room is turned inside out: if the gallery is inside then the protected IiVing room should be out in the street. As the familiar sound of the BBC Scotland news report plays on the screen. a dark figure moves behind the curtain. Is it the artist as loafing tool or psycho? You decide. (Alexander Kennedy)
Hie-(it) Nov 9006 THE LIST 93