Review of the year

Art editor Alexander Kennedy looks back at the year

It’s difficult to have a balanced opinion about a year where all the big names came back to roost in the large galleries and museums in Scotland, and what is usually referred to vaguely as ‘up and coming’ work by younger artists was mostly unimpressive.

Mapplethorpe’s weighty, sexy art snap retrospective ate into time and space, where more aesthetically risky work (not tits and arse naughtiness) could have been shown at the SNGMA.

Douglas Gordon’s retrospective Superhumanatural at the NGS also demonstrates this shift and reassessment of ‘big names’. Christine Borland and Callum Innes returned with more diminutive but impressive retrospectives. Innes’ show was a definite high, and raised issues about Scotland’s relationship to High Formalism, which we only usually see tackled in smaller ways in galleries in Glasgow. Fred Sanback’s excellent minimalist sculptural installations also caused debate, and cut opinion right down the middle.

Lucy McKenzie’s return at the Talbot Rice was also welcome, with a painted installation that was clever and followed its own formal rules in construction. Keith Farquhar continued to create impressive work that kicked masculinity in the guts and took as sideways look at that which is perceived as feminine.

And there was Glasgow International in April too, of course. Fiona Jardine’s ceremonial funereal doors and Will Daniels’ re-workings of Old Master paintings in torn paper (repainted in a trompe l’oeil style) were excellent.

But if this were a competition (which it’s not, of course) Edinburgh would get the gong this year.

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