Two Horizons: Works from the Collections of Charles Asprey and Alexander Schrôder (Group Show)
While the National Gallery of Modern Art’s Artist Rooms generates the hype, a smaller exhibition quietly sits upstairs awaiting discovery. Two Horizons consists of works from two private collections, those of Charles Asprey and Alexander Schröder. The pieces here sit together surprisingly well – there is no obvious indication of which collection each work has come from, save the gallery’s information leaflet – perhaps indicating a similarity of taste reflected by the friendship between these two men.
According to the National Galleries, ‘this exhibition showcases some of the most significant and up-and-coming names in contemporary art’, and there is certainly some exciting and excellent work on display. Several pieces by Isa Genzken begin to indicate just how brilliant her work can be, and two wittily self-referential pieces by Marc Camille Chaimowicz are intriguing. Nearby, Kitty Kraus’s sculpture ‘Untitled’, consisting of carefully balanced panes of glass, plays on the apparent precariousness of its construction – how exactly it is prevented from crashing to the floor? Andreas Slominski’s similarly untitled work leaves the viewer in another quandary: the gallery information tells us that a fine-looking bunch of bananas on the window sill have been injected with urine. Are we to believe him? Further light touches are provided by Lukas Duwenhögger’s celebratory camp paintings.
Many of these names may be unknown to viewers, but some, such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, whose little sculpture lends its title to the show, and Gillian Carnegie, winner of 2005’s Turner Prize, will be more familiar. Viewers who generally dislike contemporary art may be surprised to spot a beautiful 17th century pen and ink drawing on one wall, sitting quite comfortably alongside the contemporary works.
This is a great show, but there should be some unease at the lack of acknowledgement of the issues raised by reliance upon the collections, and the tastes, of private collectors, particularly those with interests in commercial art ventures – concerns relevant to both this show and the Artist Rooms. But despite these misgivings, Two Horizons has undoubtedly given the National Galleries a shot in the arm.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until Sun 19 Jul