Page 7, 2nd March 1990

2nd March 1990
Page 7
Page 7, 2nd March 1990 — More than a wee bit of Scottish art comes to town

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Organisations: Glasgow School of Art


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More than a wee bit of Scottish art comes to town


by LEIGH HATTS LONDONERS are still lucky in being able to enjoy so many important European and provincial exhibitions in their capital city. Scottish An Since 1900, the authoritive survey assembled at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, is no exception and has succeeded the important Hungarian show at the Barbican art gallery.

However, even Europe's largest art centre has been unable to accept the full exhibition (daily until April 6, £3) and the catalogue confirms some tantalising omissions. Ironically, London is without a copy of a famous Green Line poster by the Dundee artist James McIntosh Patrick. The 1938 Happy Scenes of Cheer Again shows The Case Is Altered pub at Harrow Weald viewpoint looking Iike a spot at least half way to Scotland. Likened to Breugel, his

landscape paintings contain immense detail.

This photographic style was the result of an admiration for early Italian renaissance .painting. He is part of the realist tradition and is placed alongside Glasgow School of Art director Douglas Bliss who is represented by a delightful wood engraving, Morayshire Crofter, which reflects the style of his friend Edward Bawden.

Naturally the recently rediscovered Charles Rennie Mackintosh has a place here although only in a corridor. In the English capital his name is now employed to promote a South Bank restaurant and a Kilburn housing development.

His own city of Glasgow has just begun issuing Mackintosh style paper hats and leaflets to attract tourists. But shown here is a group of watercolours from his last years in the south of France. Most fascinating is his distinctive 1904 freestanding bookcase still in its original white paint after years of domestic use.

Among those from the post war years is Eduardo Paolozzi who was born in Leith where his Italian parents had just settled. His work, already familiar on the Underground and in London's streets, makes a surprise appearance here. His contemporary Alan Davie is now an exile much influenced by non-Christian religion as his abstract Woman Bewitched by the Moon indicates.

Among the latest generation is Ken Currie who moved from North Shields to Glasgow at three months. His murals, inspired by Rivera, now adorn the People's Palace so it is appropriate that this Glasgow Triptych with its Template of the Future should be included. Not long ago Currie believed that film had more relevance to contemporary issues. Other young artists, Ron O'Donnell and Calum Colvin, amalgamate their photography with painting in their search for reality.

In Bloomsbury there is a celebration of Irish photography by John Minihan at the October Gallery — an airy former school building at 24 Old Gloucester Street, Minihan, best known to Londoners through his photojournalism in the Evening Standard, has been compared to Cartier Bresson and described as a "master of monochrome".

His introduction to the medium was in 1961 at the age of 15 when he won a photographic competition with a picture taken in the Whispering Gallery in St Paul's Cathedral. Over the past 25 years he has been documenting his home town of Athy and assembled work for 20 exhibitions from the Queen's Elm pub in Chelsea to Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art.

Minihan's Bacon, Beckett, Burroughs (Tuesdays to Saturdays until 24 May, free) is the first to display together the images of these legends who have known each other. Indeed Francis Bacon met Burroughs at the October Gallery two years ago. Beckett appears alone and therefore more reclusive in the pictures against backdrops of Paris and Hammersmith Broadway. Minihan notes that he would have been 84 on Good Friday.

This photographer is one of the few to defend his medium as art and he points out that Delacroix, Gauguin and Cezanne experimented with the camera, whilst today Hockney andBacon work with photographs.

Minihan also delights in quoting a fellow London Irishman, George Bernard Shaw, as saying: "If you cannot see at a glance that the old game is up, that the camera has hopelessly beaten the pencil and paint brush as the instrument of artistic representation, then you will never make a true critic, you are only, like most critics, a picture fancier."

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