Embassy, Edinburgh, until Sun 18 Nov
Blurring the line between curation and creation, this new show by Edinburgh artist Keith Farquhar exists – as the artist himself states – to serve as ‘advertisements’ for the work of Henri Matisse and Keith Haring.
Farquhar has recreated, in laser-cut vinyl, the hand-drawn lines of a piece of Haring’s basketball court graffiti from drug-flooded 1980s New York, and a religious mural from Matisse’s defining Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire, a three-year project the artist completed in 1951 on the French Riviera. The former adorns the central motto ‘Crack is Wack’ with screaming figures and tortured souls strung up by the ankles amid a billowing haze of crack smoke; in the latter, a faceless Virgin Mary presents her child amidst billowing clouds, displayed on the same pure white ceramic tiles as the Matisse original.
Although these visions of hellish drug suffering and heavenly religious perfection are drawn from utterly opposite ends of the human experience, Farquhar seems to conflate both artist’s stylistic approaches and emphasises the sense of transcendence evidenced in both works. The lines of each are simple, almost cartoon-like, yet they reveal easily recognised archetypes. Indoors and now freed from the originals’ surrounding context, these could be seen as pale third-hand imitations, yet surrounding images of the works in their original locations reinforces Farquhar’s exhortation to see these seminal artworks for yourself.