Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show 2019 (4 stars)

Art Review: Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show 2019

Work by Justin Apperley / credit: Jack McCombe

Impressive degree show featuring tuneful installations, abstract sculptures and sweary bunnies

There are certain pieces which emphasise exactly what's so enjoyable about Glasgow School of Art's MFA Degree Show. The cutesy cheek of Owain McGilvary and Yan White's digital cartoon print of a little bunny leaving its body with the motto 'Fuck this just gonna astral project' scrawled across it like graffiti is great. It's an accompaniment to a much larger and even odder video installation named 'A Glorious Manifesto in Support of Holes'.

Then there's the artist known only as Hio with 'The Inquisitor (or Prologue for the Disappearance of H)', in which an Asian woman in sunglasses and stylish bobbed haircut holds a gun-toting pose as still as possible, confronting the viewer with the forced dynamism and often sexualised violence of action movies. Jing Xie's 'Lady, Escalator and Hand' is also a success. Here, the artist films herself travelling up and down a store escalator with a hand outstretched towards those passing on the other side. It's a beautiful, quirky piece which reveals something more than just the result of a creative experiment; in each response, those being filmed become a part of the artwork, whether cheerfully high-fiving away, or scowling and muttering 'weirdo' under their breath. This simple experiment yields bold results.

While many of those artists showing may still only be in development, in terms of their technique, the youthful freshness and excitement of the new forms which some are trying out is infectious. Others, in fact, seem extremely confident of working at a large scale. In one darkened room, pieces by Rachel McBrinn and Samuel de Lange accompany each other nicely. The former conjures up all kind of associations about the relationship between human activity and modernist architecture with a monochrome video of a miming male figure projected onto a specially-installed concrete wall. The latter offers a three-screen video projection of blue orchid flowers, glowing like alien creatures in the dark.

Art Review: Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show 2019

Work by ME Smit-Dicks / credit: Jack McCombe

Before it even begins to play, Jack McCombe's 'Symphony in Whistles No 1 (in Somewhere Between E and F Minor)' is seriously impressive, an arcing installation of plaster walls which amplifies the simple sound of tuneful recorded whistling into something haunting, even religious. Emily Chudnovsky's abstract sculptures fuse the agricultural and the industrial, strange but somehow aesthetically complementary arrangements of copper chain, gleaming aluminium plates and raw sheep's wool. Meanwhile, ME Smit-Dicks also uses fabric and metal to form unusual but oddly organic sculptural shapes. Desuo Xuan's paintings are beautiful, dense circular swirls of pink, grey and black oil built up so thickly that they lift off the canvas.

This year the MFA Degree Show also extends to a second venue, the citizenM hotel nearby, with film works by five artists showing in the bar and on in-room televisions. A number of them (including McBrinn, Darae Baek and Justin Apperley) have created work which is rooted in the landscape. As ever, there is plenty to explore and get lost in between both sites, and the quality and depth of thought is generally high throughout.

Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show 2019 is at the Glue Factory and citizenM, Glasgow, Sun 9 Jun.

GSA Degree Show

Graduates of the GSA fine art, architecture and design programs display their work.

MFA Degree Show

The show for graduates of the MFA programme.

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