Puberty, print, perversion and compulsory education
This article is from 2008.
What a remarkable and strange artist Chad McCail is. By his own admission half of his output tends to be peopled by ‘robots, zombies or wealthy parasites’, while the other half looks like loose leaves from a particularly perverse Ladybird book. Both sides of McCail’s work are in evidence in this funny, clever, technically accomplished, but badly hung show.
On the ground floor, McCail’s inspired art strip Compulsory Education, a bizarre robot-zombie-parasite history lesson on European academia, tries to dominate the room but is lost in a scrum of prints for sale. This has a devaluing affect on the other great piece in the room – Relationships Grow Stronger, an eerie familial scene suggesting puberty, tradition and celebration (with McCail’s now familiar penis tree on a cart).
Upstairs the layout is a lot better. Divided into two rooms, the first space houses McCail’s Puberty series of prints (all made in collaboration with this workshop). With these McCail tackles the thorny issue of sex education as if he were illustrating a bad language book with unsettling and hilarious effect. In the final room Dream Genital reverts us back to McCail’s more degenerate meditations with a riff on the Adam and Eve myth and David Icke’s lizard people. An informative film and a reading table are also in this room. With his flat intricate illustrations, McCail clearly responds well to this way of working. Long may it continue.
Edinburgh Printmakers, 557 2479, until 6 Sep, free. McCail will discuss the works in this exhibition in a free talk on Sat 23 Aug. Places limited, book now.