On arrival to the Gallery of Modern Art I was greeted with a mysterious voice echoing through the main gallery. The gallery, dark and luring with two large screens facing each other. In the centre on the floor between the screens there are bean bags for the public to lay down and spectate. I felt a sense of grandeur with these opposing screens that produced two films; one with strange antiques, incense and spices and the other screen showing life in the Middle East and Asia, busy, bustling with scenes of terror and cultural and political conflict.
I was taken back with the amount of people watching the diverse culture of Asia and the Middle East with some disturbing scenes; in todays culture of mass media we tend to shy away from the images of terror and watch the more subtle passive happenings of life. Both films are documentaries of the Middle East and Asia but both juxtapose each other dramatically. The screen which displays the antiques, weird trinkets and spices is like a fairy tale and an unseen world while the opposite screen seems to pluck on my heart strings. How can the Middle East and Asia look so promising yet be subject to extreme destruction and poverty. While watching the installation we get two views of the story being narrated; one calm, inviting and pleasant the other congested and intimidating at points.
The layout of the screens I think is to show the diverse nature of each documentary and to highlight that contrast. Yet, I feel like we miss out on so much by only seeing one screen at a time. From a documentary perspective we would get so much more if the screens were displayed beside each other but from an artistic perspective it works incredibly well.
There is narration over the documentary of a males voice, quiet and muffled which reads an edited script from The Travels of Marco Polo. Marco Polo travelled through the Middle East and Asia for 24 years and his writings have continued to influence us for almost 800 years. Tan created this insightful installation almost ten years ago and is still a present participle in todays society and cultural transformation. When Tan’s work was originally created we never had as much access to the media as we now do. Disorient is still a contemporary masterpiece with the ever-changing culture we live in today and will continue to do so.
Sheila Boyle is something of a rarity within the contemporary production of art with a practice straddling across mediums and dimensions but retaining a clear thematic interest and consistent execution. Her work centres around the urban sprawl; it’s fragmentation and abstraction in our memory of it and the feelings it can evoke in all of us no matter where we might be from.
Her process is one of automated production, removing her works from any literal reading of a known place. This creates something absorbing and intense in her practice and I can see reason why people may end up projecting their own known environments of home onto her works. She has found the common language of our cities; the bright, almost garish colours, the loud noise and hustle and bustle that sit beside the battle between contrasting elements all striving to exist in one place. Whatever truth lies within them is buried in a blurred memory of space and presence leaving them open for the viewer to find their own known urban framework inside them.
Definably a printmaker with the majority of works shown in her Delineate exhibition starting life as monoprints before being worked into with acrylic. They are expressive but also considered, colourful without screaming at you and the longer you look at them the more interesting they seem to become. She also had a beautiful steel sculpture on display, it’s harsh welded joins take the lines from her printed works and move them into a different more prominent form reminiscent of those sculptural maps you may find in city centres around the world. Yet it is Sheila’s city and we can only follow and try and find our own way through it.
My favourite body of her work is her silkscreen prints. These are a clear move away from her other pieces yet retain the same architectural themes somehow acting as a softer nod to the abstract urban environment that defines her practice. They take the line out of the composition, instead relying on a layering of colour and a clever blend of opacity to show a depth of texture often lost in screen printing.
Delineate is on until the 20th of October and is located at the Vacant Space gallery on Argyll Street in the west end of Glasgow. Sheila was a joy to meet and gave me lots of interesting conversation about her practice and her experience as a working artist in Glasgow, if you are unable to catch her at this show then keep an eye out for her next one no doubt coming soon.
Walking into this exhibition at the CCA I found myself in a four-walled room that held a five-walled screen and a seating area for the audience. Feeling like I had just been admitted to a very uncomfortable padded cell – a very isolating environment. I watched as the five walled screens came to life with the haunting and eerie chants of Schwindt’s voice. mantra inducing. It was as if she was trying to ignore me and communicate with two other isolated figures a man with a trumpet and a young girl beside a horse. The seated man masked Schwindt’s humming with his humming and periodical tones on his trumpet.
The singing is a form of healing and the horse symbolizes an animal of power and strength but this animal of power and strength is also isolated in it’s own world eating the grass. Through her voice which seemed that she is singing to the environment, she is placed in surrounded by beautiful mountains but also the five white walls. It is as if she can’t escape the man-made world. Similar to the Three Ages of Women by Gustav Klimt there is almost a recognition by the women after her interaction with the man that she is now passing on her knowledge, skills and courage to the child who then mounts the symbol of strength, the horse.
This exhibit transports you into another world, the world of the artist, the world of mystery almost shamanistic in her approach. As you walk in you step into what seems like another plain of existence and all-encompassing eclectic interpretation of the struggles of life. It is almost like a re-telling of the stories of times gone by that is now lost with the advances of technology and the isolation that comes with it, a loss of community spirit.
These three lost souls struggling to find common ground have eliminated the more common way of dealing with mental health i.e. visiting the psychiatrist and have aligned their value and belief systems with SPK. Socialist Patience Collective(SPK) partly contribute to Schwindt’s performance. They are an anti-psychiatric collective from Heidelberg, Germany. The SPK are also interested and explore themes of the social causes of mental illness. If you are in the mood to face the stark realities of the rat race you won’t go far wrong visiting the CCA before 13th October.
131st Annual Exhibition Unit 43A & 54, The Piazza, Central Way, Paisley 7 September – 20 October 2019
PAI: A yearly occurrence of something exceptional. When entering the non-traditional quite unassuming previous supermarket space, you are swiftly immersed into a varying world of art. The once former home of Paisley School of Design (now the Piazza shopping Centre), where PAI was founded. Welcoming back the institution to its original foundations feels like the perfect alternative to the current refurbishing of the Museum and Gallery. The many people who pass through the shopping centre probably don’t expect much more from there weekly shopping ventures but as you take a peek into the exhibition venue you can’t help but be curious. This is an amazing way to grab people’s attention who usually don’t go to exhibitions, to see the incredible array of artist works on display in the centre of paisley. The continual choice to have open entrants is a great opportunity which allows younger or new artists to exhibit alongside already established, well-renowned artists and PAI members.
The section of the Gallery with 3 walls of portraiture is truly breathtaking; the distinct, varying processes and interpretations of a portrait, side by side, which both complements and contradicts the other. It is a really professionally curated show. In a room full of 476 pieces of art it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed. Amongst the many, what stands out to me is the dreamy and dramatic city/landscapes. This is when I become fully immersed and forget my surroundings.
On the lines of dreamy art, the work of Bryan Evans, definitely does not fall short of this. This particular piece is near Kinning Park underground station in the Southside of Glasgow. There is a real sense of familiarity to a person like myself, who grew up in Scotland, with the ‘rain-soaked’ streets and tenements of Glasgow at night. It reminds me of walking home after a hard day of work, its chucking it down, but you see the glow of warmth and home in the distance. Although some may dread the sight of rain, there is also something rather endearing about it. Evans captures this perfectly with the stunning combination of colours and textures created by the rain – this is emphasised with his use of watercolour. So, if you happen to find yourself in Paisley, in the rain, this is a perfect place to take shelter and absorb some of Scotland’s best portraiture, sculpture, still life, landscape, visual art and also VR!
A new configuration of Collective Endeavors performed at the iconic Glasgow Art Club on 20th September to coincide with Glasgow Open Doors. Their line up consisted of new dancer Molly Danter and new violinist Elana Inei working alongside one of the founders Jer Reid. Reid and Solene Weinachter set up Collective Endevours eight years ago. Nerea Gurrugtxaga and Molly Danter took us on a wordless journey where all sorts of themes and human emotions were enacted to a sold-out captivated audience.
What a great venue for this throbbing, experimental and haunting experience. Nerea and Molly entered from different sides of the audience dancing solo, interacting together and making moves that held grace in their poise and impossible body flexibility. Both these performers look young but their experience in dance is far more mature than their years.
Behind their youthful faces lies a plethora of knowledge, experience and control showing wisdom beyond their years. Gurrugtxaga from Basque country in Northern Spain was an artist in residence in Kinning Park Complex three years ago. Her isolation ( movement of one part of the body independently from the rest) is incredible to witness. Molly Danter (ShoreditchYouth Dance Company and London Contemporary Dance School) was phenomenal in her physicality and ability to envision the most complex forms with her body and make it look painless and ethereal.
Full body extension dancing when linked with the barefoot guitarist Reid was a surprise. We saw the two join together in an intense embrace and the juxtaposition of the movement and melody became one. They entwined in a cross-disciplinary marriage that was fleeting yet mesmerizing. The dancers reconnected with each other as we entered the next chapter of the performance. The disjointedness was elegant and surreal. Also meditative like tai chi grounding us in the human experience, making us slow down and savour the moment; giving in to the performance. A playful atmosphere changes dramatically as the violinist creates a thumping crescendo which in turn heightens the pace of the bass notes of Reid’s guitar. The dancers run, chase and jump on each other and through the crowd. Elea Inei abstractly plays alongside Reid’s experimental guitar. The pulsing rhythms of the extraordinary music pulls the viewer into a sense of comfortability only to be thrown into chaos mirroring life’s rich tapestry. If you would like to see Collective Endeavours next performance check out their website: Cemusicdance.co.uk.
Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow Until the 24th September, 2019
I recently visited the Billcliffe Gallery to view a solo painting show by a young artist and recent Gray’s School of Art graduate, David Rae. The show was a collection of oil on canvas paintings depicting photorealist scenes of various landscapes. Housing derelict buildings, football goal posts and golf courses. At first glance the images may appear cold and alienating through their lack of human figures occupying these environments. However, on further inspection, the nuanced themes of nostalgia and a distinct care for preserving memory became more apparent. Walking around the gallery I found myself caught studying the small details. Reading the canvases as though they were stories of a time gone by. Glimpses into a mind that has been left abandoned and untouched. Only to be rediscovered, with a renewed sense of care that can only be had at a distance. The viewer is also reminded of the all-consuming power of nature. Claiming dominance above any human intervention on the landscape. And a return to the artificial, as the inevitable gears of change kick into action. The show left me feeling hopeful and satisfied with a new appreciation for the power of contemporary landscape painting.
In ‘Goals remake’ we see two goal posts at either side of the canvas with a broken rope still tied to one and draping across the green football pitch. Described in warm, lemon-lime hues. In the periphery we see another set of goalposts, this time still intact, offering a small rectangular point of focus at the centre of the canvas. We are drawn into a sense of calm contemplation. Like a melancholy thought pulling you into a daydream. The vast sky above is applied with a flat tone of neutral grey. It is taking up two-thirds of the image and allowing the viewer to ease into Rae’s mind as the boundary between our world and his is being dismantled. Personally, this work felt like the right place to start viewing the paintings from, heading clockwise around the gallery. The artist’s handling of oil paint comes across varied, balanced and thoughtful. With small dry marks complementing the dominant flatness.
The 19th hole 2, seemed to act as the home base when considering the body of work as a metaphor of a journey into the mind. The viewer is offered a chance to stand back and think about the bigger picture. Quite literally, as I had to take several steps back to view the image in its entirety. For a moment I am reminded of the work of Andrew Wieth, with an almost spiritual aura created through such close attention to detail. Here, a balanced composition is paired with varying rhythms of dark and light areas of colour. This approach pulls us in and back out of the image as we scan its surface, giving it a pulse. The contrasting textures demonstrated in Rae’s painting vocabulary, causing the viewer to feel focused and switched on. A path lines the bottom third of the foreground, again reaffirming ideas of a journey or voyage. We see themes of the old and new, illustrated in the beams at either end of the central building. On the left, the supports appear to be almost crumbling in front of us. On the right, the poles seem strong and able to support the structure. Rae skilfully marries hard-edge painting in the wall cladding with the feathery technique used to create shards of glass, clinging onto the black, void-like windows. The landscape in the background seems distinctly Scottish, with rolling mountain ranges of sunshine yellows and forest greens. Conjuring images of the brain, in the lobe like structures of the hills on the left. On the right we are again released to drift into the distant peaks described in softer hues, creating perspective.
The painting ‘Shooting Target’ presents us with a yellow dream. The beautiful sky takes up half the composition, complementing the dark ground in the bottom half of the canvas. This painting offers the viewer a look into a landscape that is at the same familiar and yet unknown. Like a memory that can not be reached. Our view is blocked by a large black gate. Framed by a neat row of trees at either side – their branches, a network of neurological pathways. Densely packed separating out to a sparse new growth at each end of the gate. As our eyes attempt to read the centre point, like we were previously encouraged to in ‘Goals (remake)’, the gate disrupts our enquiry. As though we are forbidden to see the complete story. Instead, we are left to scan the image for glimpses of the copper hills in the distance. This work has a mystical quality with it’s handling of the foliage and colour choice, reminding me of an old fairytale illustration. And as such, manages to create a sense of darker undertones but without being too overtly ominous.
Passing a number of other works, depicting various dilapidated buildings, including public toilets, pubs and golf courses set into sprawling backdrops, I made my way to one of the smaller pieces in the show. ‘Creating Planet Golf’, displays the inevitable signs of change coming in over the horizon of a new day. We see the Mars-like surface of ground being leveled by a digger. As though a letting go is taking place, to allow the new it’s room to grow. Topped off by a dazzling orange sky, the painting felt like a natural progression in the narrative of the show. As the previous works toyed with the idea of impending change. My thoughts went to a post apocalyptic scene from one of the 90’s classics anime such as ‘Akira’. The intense colour creating warm highlights throughout, enables the piece to remain ambiguous in it’s mood. Allowing the viewer to set the tone for the painting by using their imagination. This seems to be a recurring strength in Rae’s work, as he manages to give us so much and still keep us searching for more. The show boasts a large selection of high-quality paintings, totaling around 20. Which, for a recent graduate’s first solo show, is very impressive. I would highly recommend a visit to the Billcliffe Gallery and a trip into the mind of this ambitious and promising young artist.
3 Aug – 25th Nov 2019 Time: 12.00pm – 5.00pm Free – Drop-in – no ticket required Closed Mondays
Chicago based artist Nick Cave (not the Australian musician) known for his wearable sculptures named ‘Soundsuits’ that hide the race, colour, gender and class of their wearer has now expanded his already mammoth practice by filling the main Tramway gallery with crystal chandeliers and ornaments in his ‘crystal cloudscape’,a weird smiley face and the word POWER on the beaded cliff wall and the majority of the space a kinetic spinner forest comprised of laser cut steel. Referencing Mardi Gras parades as well as shamanism and drag queens Cave has been collecting his culture junk and racist tat for around a decade to turn into his crystal cloudscape which is perched atop four brightly painted yellow ladders that the audience is invited to climb up.
Eclecticism on steroids, this massive array of gutterchunder boldly addresses political themes such as gun culture – 16,000 windspinners weighed down with huge circles of metal,17 cast-iron lawn jockeys and 1 crocodile to name a fraction of the thousands of objects carefully choreographed/arranged all beg the artist’s question which is , ‘Is there rascism in heaven?’ His windspinners have guns precision cut into the steel , some painted bright colours ,others glinting their steely rawness. Other windspinners contain bullets, targets and teardrops.An exhibition that is mesmerizing in its volume and fun in its maximalism
This exhibition reminded me of Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Weather Project’ from The Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall Unilver series sixteen years ago.Though much more minimalist in execution, Eliassson wanted to bring a part of London’s weather system into the building, recreating a unique feeling of warmth unexperienced in such a vast concrete space, so much so that onlookers were sunbathing in the artificial light.Here, at the Tramway, Cave has reinvented all his spending sprees in antique junk shops and brought his cloud into a similar vast environment.This juxtaposition is interesting because Cave’s cloud has the opulence of the upper (class) echelons of the business world and high class living literally supporting the cheap ornaments and Mark Twain Negro memorabilia of the 19th century America. Whether this was intended by the artist or not , it is thoughtprovoking none the less.