Art preview: The Scottish Endarkenment: 1945 to the Present

David Shrigley image of a snowy field with a dark snowman in the middle

image courtesy of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Dovecot Gallery presents darkly satirical new exhibition

‘If there is such a thing as the Scottish Enlightenment then consequently, even if we prefer to ignore it, there must also be a dark shadow,’ says Bill Hare of Edinburgh University, co-curator of The Scottish Endarkenment: 1945 to the Present with his colleague Andrew Patrizio. ‘For every Dr Jekyll there’s a Mr Hyde, that’s the nature of what the psychiatrist RD Laing called our ‘Divided Self’. Yet it wasn’t until after the horrors of the Second World War and the wide ranging impact of the Cold War on western society that Scottish artists began to face up to and address an array of disturbing and challenging subjects from the increasingly anxious and unsettling times they lived in.’

It’s this post-war period which Hare and Patrizio are looking at in exploring these themes, with work from Alan Davie, Joan Eardley, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Boyle family, John Bellany, Joyce Cairns, Steven Campbell, Alison Watt, Douglas Gordon and David Shrigley on display, as well as specially commissioned new pieces from Beagles and Ramsay, Louise Hopkins and Shona Macnaughton, and a Christine Borland piece which has never been seen in Scotland. It’s an exhibition which is large in scale and in thematic ambition, and this stretches beyond its spring opening; it will be the Dovecot Gallery’s showpiece Edinburgh Festival exhibition, and there will also be a selection of related films showing at the Filmhouse throughout July and August.

‘We’ve been struck from the outset how Scottish artists immediately ‘get’ the phrase "Scottish Endarkenment",’ says Hare, who tells us we can expect the overtly horrific and the darkly satirical. ‘Their work expresses a range of themes, from ever-escalating communal and international conflicts, social inequalities, consumer materialism and threatened gender identities – it’s a shifting and elusive affair in which the visitors are be encouraged to make thematic connections freely for themselves.’

The Scottish Endarkenment: 1945 to the Present is at the Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 13 May–Wed 31 Aug.

The Scottish Endarkenment: Art and Unreason 1945 to Present

Exhibition curated by Bill Hare and Andrew Patrizio which looks at the shared concerns of Scottish artists since the end of WWII. Featured artists include David Shrigley, Joyce Cairns and Steven Campbell.

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