My High Five Art Picks from 2015
MY ART HIGH FIVE FOR 2015
All very subjective, of course... and all from bonnie Scotland. Because that's where I live and work.
I realised earlier today that The Herald hadn't asked for a pick of the year. So I ignored the family/dog/end-of-year redding out-the-house and got lost in looking back.
1. Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965
Modern Two (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art)
73 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DS
Until 26 June, 2016
In advance, some said: 'isn't this patronising to both men and women?'
But when the time came for this survey of largely overlooked female artists to open, we mostly marvelled; slack-jawed at the sheer breadth and quality of the artwork on display. Sure, there were some nice landscapes; interiors and even the odd still life. But the vast majority was gutsy spine-tingling work. I won't forget Doris Zinkeisen's Belsen painting in a hurry. Or Margaret Oliver Brown's touchingly honest self-portrait - with her defiant paintbrush in hand. So many stories. This display has been curated with loving care and with an insightful yet direct approach by curator, Alice Strang.
2. RSA New Contemporaries 2015, RSA Building, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL www.royalscottishacademy.org March/April 2015
This now annual show in the RSA building in the centre of Edinburgh features the pick of Scotland's fine art degree shows from the previous year. Under one fine finely-honed roof, you'll see work by students in all five art schools; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Elgin (the latter often over-looked…)
This curated exhibition is an altogether calmer experience than my usual hare-around the early summer degree shows (not been to Elgin yet but will put bid into the bean-counters now…). This year's was a belter. I particularly loved Richard Phillips-Kerr’s Avatar, which I'd spied and liked at ECA in 2014. Gray's Kirstin Clark's filmed performance stopped me in my floury tracks too…
3. The Turner Prize 2015, Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow, G41 2PE. www.tramway.org/turner-prize Until 17 January 2016
The Turner Prize divides opinion. Fact. Especially among those who've never seen it 'in the flesh'. Like me…
Until it came to Glasgow, I was one of the many who'd never clapped eyes on a Turner Prize exhibition. The popular view is that it's Emperor's New Clothes stuff, but I haven't met a serious artist yet who has just dashed something off and hoped for the best before placing it in front of another pair of eyes. I'd urge everyone to clear the mist from cynical eyes to take in:
Assemble: socially-engaged young artist/designer collective; gobsmacked to be nominated and even more gobsmacked to win!
Bonnie Camplin: lab of weirdness - have the lunatics actually taken over the asylum?
Janice Kerbel : six classically-trained singers and their conductor tell story of unfortunate man called Doug
Nicole Wermers Fur Coats and Nae Sniggers - now famous magazine coverline coined by my former arts editor at The Herald (at least I think it was him... Alan?)
4. Joan Eardley: Time and Tide, Clydebank Museum & Art Gallery, Clydebank Town Hall, 5 Hall Street, Clydebank, G81 1UB July-Oct 2015
The work of Joan Eardley continues to inspire more than 50 years after her premature death at the age of 42. Her wild Catterline seascapes and her unflinchingly honest portrayal of street kids in inner-city Glasgow mark her out as an artist who was never trammelled by convention. The power of her mark-making is never as powerful on the page. It has to be seen to be believed – and this exhibition in Clydebank Town Hall was a blast of Eardley fresh air. As poet, Edwin Morgan, put it, her spirit is 'beyond the sun.'
Also on display were photographs by Joan's friend, Audrey Walker, which gave a tantalising glimpse into Joan's World. I can't wait for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh's show opening in December 2016, which focuses on the way Joan worked, drawing on its archive of sketches and photographs which remains largely unknown and unpublished.
5. Fantasia by Fabrizio Gianni, Park Gallery, Callendar House
Callendar Park, Falkirk, FK1 1YR. May-Aug 2015
Once upon a time, a young Italian man dreamed of making motion pictures. As a young filmmaker, Fabrizio Gianni created one of the most recognisable film characters in cinema history; Il Puro, brought to life by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns. When the bottom fell out of the Italian film business, Fabrizio took his visual narrative power over to the business of fashion photography. He went on to work for clients such as Elle, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar Vogue, L’huomo Vogue, GQ and Madame Figaro, shooting everyone who became anyone; from model-turned actress, Andy McDowell, to actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins. In the 1980s, he met a young Scots model and made the town of Falkirk his base. He retired in the early days of the 21st century, so his archive was mainly in old-school transparency form. Until, that is, Park Gallery curator Gill Smith, tracked him down on the golf club and asked it he'd mount a retrospective of his fashion photographs. Ask anyone who knows. Fabrizio Gianni is up there with the giants of fashion photography. A knock-out find and a dazzling show.