Borders-based artist James Hugonin's network of coloured grids (3 stars)

Quietly insistent solidity and strength to Hugonin’s minimalism

James Hugonin

Music and movement is at the heart of this display of eight works by the Borders-based artist to mark his 60th birthday. Identical in scale and scope, each canvas painstakingly maps out an interlocking network of coloured brick-shaped grids that dance about their large-scale square surface in busy but constant motion, like some cartoon traffic jam piled up on a multiple-lane freeway and slowly honking its way home.

With only one painting made a year, at first casual glance there’s little to gauge between them, but in actual fact, where the two earliest works, ‘Untitled (I)’, dating from 1988, and ‘Untitled (II)’ are pale and interesting, the more recent pieces, ‘Untitled (XIII)’ through to ‘Untitled (XVIII)’ are bolder in tone.

If such a willfully restricted palette resembles the pictorially suggestive scores of avant-garde composers, it’s deliberate, and possesses the sort of spacey aspiration for Zen-like calm that one can imagine Brian Eno attempting to co-opt. Where Eno’s video paintings have a slowly morphing fluidity, however, there’s a quietly insistent solidity to Hugonin’s works that, when lined up together, provide strength and substance rather than aural wallpaper.

To complement the show, on November 16th, cellist Peter Gregson will play a programme of work in response to Hugonin’s paintings. In what seems to continue the current slow-burning minimalist takeover across Scotland, works by Morton Feldman, Philip Glass and Steve Reich will feature. In Hugonin’s world, at least, it’s hip to be square.

Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh until Sat 20 Nov

James Hugonin

  • 3 stars

Exhibition by this gallery artist known for his subtle and quietly musical compositions in paint.


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