David Mach: Precious Light (4 stars)

This article is from 2011

David Mach: Precious Light

Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition of biblical proportions by Fife-born artist

Without doubt, Methil-born artist David Mach’s work ‘Golgotha’ will stand out as the defining image from the artistic strand of this year’s Edinburgh Festival. Three enormous figures of threaded steel nailed to metallic crosses, which take up the entire ground floor and reception area of the newly refurbished City Art Centre, they recast the biblical suffering of Jesus and his fellow crucified as a strikingly modernist monument and an otherworldly tableau of religious art.

Although it’s subtitled ‘King James Bible, a Celebration, 1611-2011’, however, it’s hard to tell where reverence and parody diverge in this epic exhibition by 1988 Turner Prize nominee Mach. A similar cruciform mounted in the escalator well, for example, is titled ‘Die Harder’, while the large-scale photographic collages, which comprise most of the show, are laden with the visual weight of a Hollywood movie. In these often stunning narrative pieces, ‘Noah’s Ark’ is a timber frame mounted on Salisbury Crags; ‘The Nativity’ occurred in a post-apocalyptic shack made of telegraph poles and upturned cars, and ‘The Destruction of Jericho’ is viewed from the inside of a family people carrier as if it were a scene from Cloverfield.

Although this is superficially a bright and modern (and not always child-friendly) update of unfashionable religious art, there are also deeper contexts and meanings to be found – in ‘The Resurrection’, for example, a pair of holed and bloody feet shuffle through a trash-strewn dump, a possible commentary on the wastelands of consumerist outflow left behind in countries where religious feeling remains most powerful.

City Art Centre, 529 3993, until 16 Oct, £5 (£3).

David Mach: Precious Light

  • 4 stars

Explosive and daring exhibition of large-scale collage and sculpture works inspired by and confronting the narratives of the Bible on the 400th anniversary of the publication of the highly influential King James version.

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