Aleksandra Vajd & Markéta Othová: What Is Life? (4 stars)

Aleksandra Vajd & Markéta Othová: What Is Life?

Exhibition of two eminent figures in Central and East European photography celebrates Czech Season in Scotland

Opposites attract in this joint exhibition which forms part of the Czech Season in Scotland, and which has been programmed to coincide with this autumn's 2017 Season of Photography in Scotland. Where Markéta Othová's off-kilter still life studies are writ large, Aleksandra Vajd's images are miniscule in comparison. Just as Othová's pictures are figurative and recognisable even as they flirt with abstraction, Vajd's miniatures play with form, colour and concept. With each artist's work hung side by side, the pair mark out their territory by way of a spectrum of scale.

Othová takes the seemingly ordinary and, peering at it from awkward angles, choreographs it with a sense of sculptural definition. An isometric patterned rug sprawls into view. A small plate is placed inside a larger one so it resembles a target. The vast contours of a shadow-dappled wheat-field seen from a hillock above gives it a diorama effect. The curves of a lamp set against a jet-black backdrop lends new meaning to mood lighting. A half-full/empty glass of water houses a leaf-strewn plant captured in that fleeting moment of thriving.

Vajd's assorted images on sheets of rectangular photographic paper contrasts their central blacks with yellows, pinks, browns, greens and blues at the corners. Like department store sock displays, they're either filed or coded atop each other and lined up side by side in groups of six, or else overlap and conjoin to form graphs of pure colour. In one room, the sheets are split into op-art triangles of black and white. It's all very New Wave.

For all the differences between the artists, there is common ground. This is most noticeable in Othová's cloudburst of pink fireworks placed next to Vajd's day-glo graph. If a black void is at the centre of both, it's merely a trick of the light.

Street Level Photoworks, until Sat 18 Nov.

Aleksandra Vajd & Markéta Othová: What Is Life?

An exhibition presenting current work by two eminent figures in Central and East European photography, Markéta Othová (Prague) and Aleksandra Vajd (Slovenia). What Is Life? is not only their first joint exhibition in the UK, but also their first exhibition together.

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