Well Moyna Flannigan - Well (4 stars)

  • List.co.uk
  • 3 August 2006

This article is from 2006.

With Edinburgh riddled with a plague of Diablo wielding ninnies and grimacing tourists, Moyna Flannigan’s pretty grotesques on show at Doggerfisher continue this theme of the carnivalesque. These paintings and drawings are ‘funny strange’ rather than ‘funny ha ha’; tortured Pierrots and Pierrettes are dragged about sparse canvases by Flanagan’s bravura brushstrokes and warped wit.

In ‘Well, Well’, for example, cartoon hands reach in from the edge of the composition. The central male clown figure stands in a schematically treated space, floating in a flat middle ground, rising over a space that does not exist, to be dragged out of the canvas into even greater nothingness. The figure points to a pile of little skulls (a nod to the ‘vanitas’ tradition), before being snatched off stage like a comedian who has overstayed his welcome - a pithy statement on the human condition.

Female figures are wrapped in the trappings of by-gone ages (switches, tippets, bustles and such), with shit-like shadows seeping out from under their tatty petticoats. In ‘Liar’ for instance, a painted woman squats and raises her skirts demurely, as the head of a child rolls out, centre stage. We don’t know whether to throw up or applaud her gross party trick, so move on to the next fucked up puppet.

The characters are forced into positions that suggest they are too uncomfortable with their mute, decorative and abused state; the paintings become S&M psychodramas for the artist to figure out a seemingly ambivalent relationship with the figurative. (Alexander Kennedy)

Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, until 30 Sep

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