Raoul Reynolds: A Retrospective
Inventive exhibition that lays bare the creative process
You would be forgiven for being duped by Raoul Reynolds: A Retrospective before setting foot in the exhibition at the Rennie Mackintosh-designed Scotland Street School Museum. If you’ve read the information relating to the show you’ll have wondered why no one’s heard of this revolutionary figure belonging to the 20th century. There’s even a touching biography for the fictional artist on the Glasgow International 2016 website.
'We wanted to create a mystery and buzz around the exhibition,' the show’s curator Francesca Zappia explained. 'The initial idea was to set up a collaborative project with artists from Glasgow and Marseille whose playful relationships with Modernism were evident in their practices. Through the exchange of ideas and research over a period of six months the biography of Raoul Reynolds was created reflecting different elements from each of the artists’ work.'
Zappia took the decision to curate the show without regard for chronology despite the 12 artists assimilating major movements including Art and Craft, Dada, Bauhaus and Surrealism. 'It would have resulted in the Glasgow artists being clustered in one side of the room and the Marsaille artists in the other.'
Modernist tropes and styles are mixed resulting in a peculiarly unplaceable exhibition. Douglas Morland’s work stands out as looking particularly postmodern, but other works could at first glance pass as authentic relics from past movements. Without learning the context of the work, the ebonised oak screen with printed panels by Glasgow-based artists Helen de Main and James McLardy appropriates the Arts and Crafts style so convincingly it could pass in a Rennie Mackintosh museum.
At a time when curatorial and artistic practices are converging, it is rewarding to witness an exhibition that lays the creative processes bare while using an inventive and humourous framework to do so.
Scotland Street School Museum, until Sun 24 Apr.