Richard Demarco and Joseph Beuys (4 stars)

This article is from 2011.

Richard Demarco and Joseph Beuys

An art world friendship under a Scottish sky

A single rose can make a garden; a single friend can make a world. Writer, artist and philosopher Richard Demarco’s friendship with the humanistic artist Joseph Beuys was something special. These two passionate, occasionally obtuse men were drawn to each other like moths to light. ‘When shall we meet again?’ Demarco would ask of Beuys on parting. ‘When the hurly burly’s done, when the battle’s fought and won,’ Beuys would reply, revealing his knowledge of the Scottish play. Anyone who has the privilege of being allowed to visit Demarco’s archive at Skate Raw can witness the mountains of Beuys in Scotland-related ephemera Demarco has collated and here he allows some of it into a more public arena alongside some of his own sketches and paintings. It makes for a suitably Celtic juxtaposition.

Demarco’s lovely sketches and paintings of Scottish and Italian landscapes (with their hints of the righteous influences of Piper and Chagall) serve to link Beuys’ best-known work in Scotland – the Celtic Kinloch Rannoch: The Scottish Symphony – with the Road of Meikle Seggie, the road that Christians, Romans and Demarco’s forbears used to travel to Scotland which also passed through Beuys home town Kleve.

Anyway, let’s not get into the anthroposophy of it all; essentially this is Demarco’s art alongside photographs of Beuys at work and play. It’s a conceptual love letter to a master too long in the ground.

Axolotl Gallery, 557 1460, until 5 Sep (not Sun), free.

Richard DeMarco & Joseph Beuys

  • 4 stars

Richard Demarco is an artist best known for his brave and tireless promotion of other artists, perhaps most notably Joseph Beuys, whose enigmatic, be-hatted shadow still looms over contemporary German art. This exhibition features works by the two collaborating artists, including those inspired by Beuys' many visits to…


1. Meikle Seggie19 Aug 2011, 4:29pm Report

Well done to Paul Dale and The List for reviewing Richard Demarco's 2011 Edinburgh Festival exhibition at Axolotl, Edinburgh. This is a must see exhibition. Demarco surprises with giclee prints of rarely seen watercolours and colour 'Event Photographs' of collaborations with Joseph Beuys and others, some of them exhibited before, annoted, by Demarco in 'black & white.

As always, Demarco does more than 'exhibit' his work. As a Teacher, Demarco includes display cases containing publications providing information and a context for the work on show. Also, there is an excellent video showing Demarco 'On the Road to Meikle Seggie'. "look! Here is the sign 'Meikle Seggie'." And so begins a journey on which Demarco takes the viewer.

I have, however, some corrections to Paul Dales's review. The Demarco Archive moved from Skateraw in December 2009 and has since been located at Craigcrook Castle, Edinburgh and may soon find a permanent home at Summerhall, Edinburgh.

Demarco once commented to me that Joseph Beuys was his mentor and the exhibition is indeed a 'conceptual love letter to a master' and though I share the sentiment that Beuys is 'too long in the ground' it should be noted that Beuys 'ashes' were scatterred in the North Sea at Helgoland following his death on 23 January 1986.

I curated the ‘Venus + Demarco + Beuys’ project, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the death of Joseph Beuys which concluded by celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the birth of Joseph Beuys on 12 May 2011.

Lest we forget, Demarco introduced Joseph Beuys to the English speaking world and did so in the City of Edinburgh which Beuys visited on 8 occassions between 1970 and 1981 creating according to Demarco some 13 masterworks. Sadly, this exhibition is the closest many people will get to see any of the 'Scottish' masterworks by Beuys and this makes Demarco's 'Event Photographs' very important indeed. You will see, for example, the event photogrpah of Beuys signing the Jimmy Boyle Days blackboards containing the famous inscription Kunst = Kapital. The 'masterwork' itself is now in the Hamburger Banhof, Berlin, Germany, where is is dislayed alongside other iconic Beuys works such as 'Tramstop' and 'Tallow'.

In this context, Demarco's collaboration with Beuys, and the work which they produced by them together as Teachers here in Scotland was truly remarkable and does remain astonishing.

Do not miss Demarco at Axolotl Gallery, Edinburgh.

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