Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, until Sat 12 Jul
In recent years the work of Aberfeldy-born, Amsterdam-based painter Janice McNab has lent itself towards a series she calls her ‘Chocolate Box Paintings’. While that term has developed from describing the original rural idylls with which Richard Cabdury would dress his packaging in the 19th century to now mean any art deemed twee and sentimental, it’s only the phrase which McNab co-opts for her work.
This selection of paintings attempts to set up a dialogue between the warm, inoffensive art evoked by the title and the stark, futuristic landscapes depicted in the work. The conceptual thrust of McNab’s work seems to be a concerted, repeated effort to subvert the meaning of the term ‘chocolate box’ in relation to art. Her execution is certainly both playful and memorable. These paintings are no more than images of a few plastic inner trays from chocolate boxes, crushed and distorted and painted in fine close-up detail.
There is drama, though, in the angle from which McNab views these objects, as if they were rolling, ridged hills beneath a purple, alien sky or, in one case, an iceberg rising from and mirrored in the sea. These tableaux are trickeries as far as the source materials go, but McNab has recently taken to populating her paintings with tiny figures, thus amplifying their mountainous aspect. This gives the works a sense of perceived drama to balance the essential frivolousness of the endeavour, all the while cementing the desired reconsideration of the term ‘chocolate box painting’ in the viewer’s mind.