Visual Art

REVIEW MIXED MEDIA GRAHAM FAGEN: SOMEBODYELSE The Changing Room, Stirling, until Sat 11 Apr .000

Living up to the promise of its name, The Changing Room’s move to the Tolbooth has led to the gallery’s being successfully reconfigured within a historic setting. In keeping with this theme of recontextualisation, Somebodyelse is a retrospective of sorts, featuring portrait works executed by the artist Graham Fagen over the last ten years. Fagen’s projects have been exhibited widely, and elements of many of the best are revisited here, alongside a new commission Heads of Scotland and I Murder Hate, a music event developed with producer Adrian Sherwood as part of Tolbooth’s Blend Festival. Despite not being a portraitist as such, it is surprising just how many of Fagen’s works lend themselves to this category. This is not an exhibition of standard portraiture as Fagen is evidently uninterested in such straightforward depiction. Some portraits are anonymous, such as the brilliantly sinister disembodied smile of ‘Clean Hands Pure Heart’, while several reflect historic works by artists (‘Giorgione’) or rework portraits from the National Galleries of Scotland. An understated little gouache of

88 THE LIST 5—19 Mar 2009

a pansy - Fagen’s retort to being teased over this, his favourite flower - is a smart visual reminder that portraiture can take all sorts of physical and conceptual forms.

‘Character Stills: Owners’ is more conceptually dense, and consists of four photographic representations of people who, we are informed by the accompanying text, are the ‘owners’ of the arts, education, broadcasting and myth. This is a surprisingly powerful yet playful way of highlighting the immense authority and importance of these things within our lives. A humorous approach undercut by a serious, resonant message also underlies ‘Nothank’, based on Unthank, the city in Alasdair Gray’s novel Lanark, where again text and image interplay to create a deceptively simple work with complex underlying ideas. We’re given just a brief taste - a more substantial portion would have been welcome.

There is some disjuncture between the works, but the exhibition sits beautifully within the gallery’s new context. Hopefully this show will entice those who are new to Fagen’s work, while allowing viewers familiar with the original projects to further appreciate the work of this compelling artist. (Liz Shannon)


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JIMMY ROBERT: GREY FLANNEL SUITS ANY MAN Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow, until Sat 28 Mar 0000

Jimmy Robert's practice focusmg on the fragility of representation If; so intelligentl,

rendered and meticulous it makes yOu want to swoon. This; shew. lllf; first in Scotland. presents his image-object and performance work in a neat gathering ef simple actions and conSidered arrangements that underlie the artist"; (Olélllffll‘il up With surface, the pictorial, material and the physical.

Robert is preoccupied With the flat image surface. which he manipulates. Cutting. tearing, folding to give it a dimenSionaI duality. before returning the resulting forms to the image plane. This communication between a recorded moment and the tangible. is central to his annotations on representation.

‘Untitled' (2005) presents a photograph of a black teenager on a leather sofa alonQSIde a postcard of a painting of a Caucasian Edwardian woman. Her elegant attire is lifted from the page Symbolised as pristine sheets of tracing paper alongsde a creased. folded. discardcd sheet hiding his face; meanwhile a slice of leather upholstery is lifted from the image. and awkwardly placed at a distance en an adjacent wall. It is perfumed. suggesting an overlap between feminine and masculine and an evocative correspondence between representations of black and white. The other works are Similarly attuned: thoughtful arrangements associating representation and implication. through his sculptural inter/entioris, with this image's potent yet ephemeral and elusive condition. (Alex Hetheringten)