Review of the year - visual art
In a year that’s brought the best work by Picasso and Warhol to our doors, this has otherwise been a relatively quiet one for Scottish visual art. Everybody got on with what they did best. In the capital the first Edinburgh Art Festival took place under the auspices of director Joanne Brown, with artists from all over the world being brought under one big press release-shaped umbrella. William Eggleston’s photographs at Inverlieth House were a Technicolored highlight, the exhibition quickly followed by Smith/Stuart’s simple but weighty installation.
Generally speaking, Glasgow’s galleries have plodded through 2007 with much of their attention turned to international art fairs. The idea of the gallery as showcase for the best work has been replaced with the art-as-Tupperware model, gallerists cast as jet setting sales assistants touting their wares round the globe. Mary Mary fell silent, although Nick Evans’ sculptures were an enormous success. But a few new ventures did take off – Southside Studio’s tiny Fridge gallery showing the excellent installed paintings by Neil Clements, for example.
Martin Boyce’s exhibition at the Modern Institute was one of this year’s highlights, with an airy yet melancholic Modernist atmosphere permeating the work. A long overdue retrospective exhibition by Scottish late-Modernist masters Gillespie, Kidd and Koia also demonstrated that Scotland can ‘do’ Modernism, even though we have allowed some of their masterpieces (St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, for example) to crumble before our eyes. Another master showed his works in the oppressive confines of Café Cossachok. It’s perhaps indicative of how we act too late as a nation, how we can neglect and overlook our recent past, that Alasdair Gray, one of this country’s most accomplished and respected illustrators, had his first retrospective in a cellar rather than in GoMA or SNGMA. (Alexander Kennedy)