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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 janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Jutta Koether in Dundee & Rolladog in Falkirk


Jutta Koether: Seasons and Sacraments
Dundee Contemporary Arts
152 Nethergate, Dundee
01382 909900
www.dca.org.uk
Until April 21

The question of how to make painting relevant in today’s contemporary art world is one which raises its head often in art circles. It’s water-cooler chat for the art anoraks among us and it’s not a new dilemma.
Many confusing treatises have been penned on this subject. Looking back through the annals of art history, when the Russian painter and pioneer of abstract art, Kasimir Malevich, produced his Black Square painting in 1915 (two years before Duchamp showed  Fountain – the urinal that shocked the world), the peg holding that painting coat was starting to feel shoogly.
Fast-forward to 1951 and post-modernism was pulling on that coat with all its might as Robert Rauschenberg launched White Painting on the world. This work consists of four stretched canvases covered with house paint and further stoked the debate about painting being just one of the tools in an artist’s armoury.
Almost a century after Malevich stoked the debate on painting, a new exhibition opens today at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) centre which attempts to bridge the gap between the classic approach to painting of 17th century French artist, Nicolas Poussin and the cutting edge of contemporary art practice.
Berlin and New York-based painter, performance artist, musician, critic and theoretician, Jutta Koether, first came to Dundee in the summer of 2008 to take part in Altered States of Paint at DCA.
While she was in Scotland, she paid a visit to the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh with DCA curator, Graham
Domke.
According to Koether, participating in
Altered States of Paint and looking around the National Gallery convinced her that painting ‘could have a renewed life’.
The works which particularly caught her attention in the National Gallery were Poussin’s Seven Sacraments. The original paintings depict the sacraments of the Catholic Church; baptism, eucharist, confirmation, marriage, penance, ordination and extreme unction.
Poussin painted two versions of the work, the second and only complete set which was created between 1644 and 1648, is displayed in Edinburgh in an octagonal room.
Koether, who used to edit German culture and music publication Spex, explains: “Seeing the work coincided with a growing interest of mine of looking at classic paintings and giving them a contemporary relevance.”
The teacher in Koether – she is currently a professor at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg – set off on a quest to discover more about the work of Poussin.
This led her to pick up TJ Clark’s Sig
ht of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing in which the art historian uses two paintings by Poussin, Landscape With a Man Killed by a Snake and Landscape With a Calm as a starting point for an examination of art criticism and how we modern human beings, look at art and imagery.
In the book, Clark suggests the reader thinks 'about why some visual configurations are harder to put into words than others. And about whether there is an ethical, or even political, point to that elusiveness'.
According to Koether, Clark’s writings made her return to Poussin’s work and to try to remake it in a 21st century context.
Last year, she exhibited four paintings in New York, referencing Poussin’s famous painting cycle The Four Seasons (1660–64) during the 2012 Whitney Biennial in New York.
Mounted on transparent glass panels and installed in front of one of the Museum’s windows, Koether’s images interacted with the building’s architecture to become, in her words, a site-specific ‘window onto a window.’
The Four Seasons is now included in this, Koether’s largest exhibition in the UK to date together with the newly commissioned series made specifically for DCA, which responds to Poussin’s The Seven Sacraments.
In this work, Koether reinterprets these seven paintings as a series of seven different approaches to contemporary painting.
Confirmation presents everyday objects encased in clear liquid acrylic, attached to vast sheets of glass; Penance is symbolised by a contemporary Danish-designed perspex table that resembles Poussin's depiction of drapery, while Baptism is represented by a painted canvas featuring racing car driver Sebastian Vettel rather than a scene from classical antiquity.
Her re-imagining of The Four Seasons is presented on freestanding sheets of glass in Gallery 1.
Poussin’s work is a series of four paintings and depicts Old Testament scenes representing spring, summer, autumn and winter. This is the first time these large-scale paintings are beng shown in Europe following their premiere last year at the Whitney in New York.
Seasons and Sacraments coincides with Koether’s inclusion in the current Tate Modern exhibition, A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance

Reggie’s Roller Palace, a theatrical installation of life size ceramic dogs on roller skates
The Park Gallery
Callendar House, Callendar Park, Falkirk
01324 503789
www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org
From today until April 21

It’s not every day a dog has its day as the star attraction in an exhibition. In fact, it’s about as rare as a dog winning Britain's Got Talent, isn’t it?
Hold that thought for now, because this quirky exhibition, the latest creation by Halifax-based artist Olivia Brown, best known for her unique ceramic sculptures of dogs and animals, is based on just such a premise.
Explains Gillian Smith of Falkirk Community Trust: “Reggie’s Roller Palace is a vintage take on the modern cult of celebrity, conveyed with humour, using dogs. Brown is clearly an animal lover as each of her creations is lovingly hand-crafted from clay and imbued with its own personality and characteristics.”
The exhibition is expressed through the eyes of another of Brown’s animals, Reggie the rat, but involves around 120 dog characters who star as contestants, judges and audience members in the Canine Rolla Dance.
This event is watched by a canine audience enthralled by the on-stage pyrotechnics for Kenny and his display team. Full of witty details such as the pouting booking clerk (complete with pink nails to match her curly pink wig), this is an exuberant, delightfully over-the-top installation.
Brown is deadly serious however in her bid to parody society’s obsession with the cult of celebrity and the worship of the worthless.
She draws attention to how celebrities involved in this type of event become marketing machines endorsing products or creating brands with an authority simply derived from their often inane achievements.
This thought-provoking exhibition is accompanied by a series of related events. See website for details.    

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