Published in The Herald arts section, Saturday June 4, 2011
ARTISTS ROOMS: VIJA CELMINS EXHIBITION & EVENTS
Gracefield Arts Centre
28 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries
Until July 30
Launched two weeks ago as part of this year’s Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, this exhibition offers the chance to see 26 artworks by acclaimed American artist Vija Celmins. Part of the Artists Rooms series, the work is on loan from the Tate and National Galleries of Scotland.
Born in Latvia in 1938, Vija Celmins and her family emigrated to the United States in 1948. Although beginning her career as an Abstract Expressionist painter, she is now best known for her intricate, monochromatic drawings of a select range of subjects.
In 1966, she began to use photographs as the subject for her works, creating what she described as 'impossible images', which remind us of the complexity of the simplest things. These meticulous renderings of the surface of the ocean, expanses of desert, the night sky, or a spider's web, demonstrate her fascination with the surrounding world. With a slow, painstaking approach, some of these works take up to a year to complete.
This Thursday evening (June 9), there’s a free talk by Mike Alexander inspired by the Night Sky artworks in the exhibition to introduce the science of astronomy. Alexander will be discussing the Dark Skies Park in the Galloway Forest.
A week today (Sat June 11), arts officer, Dawn Henderby will give a guided tour of the exhibition and on Saturday June 25, Artist Rooms originator, Anthony d’Offay will be discussing his gift to the nation and the role of philanthropy in the UK.
D’Offay has this to say about Celmins’ work: “Her early works are tormented and aggressive and to do with the war. Then the middle of her life, there she is doing these supremely beautiful quiet, poignant, poetic drawings. In terms of painting and drawing, they're incomparable.”
THE CREAM OF ARGYLL
899 Dumbarton Road,
Until June 18
For the last decade, former fashion designer Lex McFadyen has been carving out a growing reputation as a highly collectable artist.
Both painter and sculptor, his figures are beautifully rendered, whether the medium is oil, charcoal, bronze or ceramic, showing a keen eye for the human figure set against a background influenced by his first love of fashion.
McFadyen divides his time between Argyll and a home in the west end of Glasgow, where he also runs his own gallery space, Lime.
To coincide with the West End Festival, McFadyen is bringing the cream of Argyll’s thriving art scene to this gallery. “McFadyen says: “Mid Argyll, and in particular the area around the ancient Kilmartin Glen and the Crinan Canal, has attracted many excellent artists to a beautiful and inspiring part of Scotland.”
Artists exhibiting alongside McFadyen include; Ross Ryan, Melanie Chmielewski, Kirsty Brady, Rebecca Barnett, Caroline Hunter, Rob Walker, Sian McQueen, Gillian Goodhier, Lizzie Rose.
Another West End Festival date for the diary is next Saturday (June 11), when celebrated writer and artist Alasdair Gray is taking part in the first ever arts day at Lansdowne Church on Great Western Road.
Gray, who has been painting the interior of Oran Mor for over a decade will be painting in the church from 1pm until 6pm and is inviting the public to join him.
It’s all part of the Adventures in Art day which runs from 10am until 6pm, with the church hosting a range of arts workshops including photography, stained glass, speed-painting, alongside demonstrations by leading West End artists. For more information, see: www.lansdowneinspires.blogspot.com
SCOTT MCMURDO: Portraits of an Interior Mind
178 West Regent Street, Glasgow,
0141 221 6370
Until June 22
As students at Scotland’s art schools prepare to mount the biggest show of their life (with the exception of Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee, where degree show time has already been and gone) this solo exhibition at the long-established Compass Gallery in Glasgow shows what can happen if you are ‘spotted’ at your degree show.
Jill Gerber and her father Cyril have been visiting degree shows in Scotland for over 40 years and know a thing or two about what to look out for.
Jill explains: “Scott McMurdo was a star of his year when he graduated from Glasgow School of Art three years ago. We immediately offered him his first solo exhibition, which he has been working towards in between earning his living elsewhere. We think that he is a very fine painter, serious, with a tremendous empathy for the subjects of his very painterly portraits.
“He is what we consider to be a true artist, dedicated to his work, and expressing himself in the strong tradition of figurative art that Glasgow School of Art has been renowned for. He has never been exhibited in Glasgow, although we launched him on the London market as one of our New Generation artists, and have sold several of his very fine charcoal drawings to some of our most serious collectors.”
McMurdo’s work is a long way away from photorealism. He is a great admirer of the work of old masters such as Goya and Rembrandt, as well as 20th century artists such as Avigdor Arikha and Leon Kossoff, as well as the Russian artist Marie-Anne Poriatowskie
His paintings and charcoal drawings express empathy and give dignity to the elderly subjects of his powerful portraits.
“To conscientiously represent the human figure in an ever changing world of rapid and ephemeral culture is, I feel, as emotive a subject as it has ever been,” says McMurdo. “My aim is to seek beyond the realms and constraints of a simple likeness of the subject and construct from the physiognomy of the face and body traces that symbolise and communicate feelings of emotion that the viewer can empathise with.”
- The story so far
- I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org (All work © Jan Patience)