Au Fil D’Ecosse
REVIEW PAINTING, PHOTOGRAPHY, INSTALLATION
Institut Français, Edinburgh, until Fri 29 Aug
This collaboration between artist Cyril Barrand and poet John Hudson leaves no thread untied, no thematic ambiguity unresolved, with the result that our response to the work is tethered to the gallery space. Thankfully, however, in the realm of contemporary art every conceptual cloud has a sensual silver lining. If all that is left for the viewer to do on encountering Au Fil d’Ecosse is revel in the viewing, and not ponder answers to creatively posed questions, it is significant that the experience remains extraordinarily pleasing.
Barrand has created a series of exquisite canvases, each comprising a painted scene over-layed with tapestry and text. Like illuminated manuscripts, Barrand’s gilded works become decorative objects, all connected by the pencilled trails of Hudson’s poetic anecdotes, memories and myths. The words provide answers to the images, and, poring over the tailored surfaces and scrawling text, connections click satisfactorily into place. This recognition of subtly repeated tropes brings out a certain smugness in the viewer; you are made to feel you ‘get’ it. Further to this, by indulging in the decorative, personal and tartan, both artists tug at a specifically Scottish set of heartstrings.
While irony can be sensed in Barrand’s work, it is dampened by Hudson’s poetics. There is however, a lot to be said for guilty pleasures and this exhibition yields instant gratification.