Tommy Grace, Ged Quinn and Tony Swain: Restore Us and Regain
Group show pervaded warped and windswept romanticism
Taking its title from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a warped and windswept romanticism pervades this triple bill of work. With four works apiece from Grace and Swain – both already established in these parts – and three from Quinn, each artist creates blueprints that aspire to some form of imaginary but far-from-perfect idyll made in their own image.
If Tony Swain’s newsprint-based work gives weight to an otherwise transient medium by recontextualising and immortalising the throwaway, Grace’s assortment has a deliciously arcane feel to it. From watercolors to pinhole photography, one imagines a cartographical voyage into the unknown and a resounding ornateness, especially on the twin double-sided lithographs that make up ‘Recto Verso’ – perched opposite each other but separated by the stairs in the Mackintosh gallery.
It’s Ged Quinn’s large canvasses that light up the room, however, their deceptive swathes of classicist landscapes inveigled upon by junk-shop tree-houses that suggest the rough and tumble of some boy’s own adventure in outer space crash-landed into a glossy surrealist poster world by way of a Woolworth’s closing down sale. As with Grace’s ‘Phantasmagoricide’ and Swain’s ‘Introduction to an Undisclosed Duration’, there’s a baroque heroism to Quinn’s titles. ‘The Height of the Vulgar Commonplace’, however, suggests a pervading farty smell among the lushness of a place where, somewhere between past, present and future, worlds really do collide.
Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, until Sat 6 Nov