Generation - Scottish National Gallery (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Generation - Scottish National Gallery

credit: Courtesy the artist’s estate

Outstanding group show celebrating contemporary art in Scotland

That this segment of the nationwide GENERATION exhibition is showing for free during the Edinburgh Festival, in possibly the city's flagship city centre gallery space, is a great advertisement for the Scottish art scene – not because it’s a triumph of parochial tokenism, but because the quality of the work confirms that everything you have heard about Scotland’s contemporary art scene is true.

Works of resonance and conceptual vitality abound. The first a visitor sees is a new commission by Karla Black entitled ‘A Story of a Sensible Length’, a delicate hanging arrangement of white and pastel pink fabrics which on closer inspection reveal themselves to be sheets of polythene, their synthetic functionality given an implied, organic grace and dexterity by the arrangement. Elsewhere, the stylistically crude, pseudo-religious paintings of the late Steven Campbell occupy a whole room, floor to ceiling, while Rosalind Nashashibi offers a contemplative and unintentionally timely video diptych featuring two families going about their daily business in Nebraska and Palestine.

David Shrigley’s monochrome cartoon paintings and concrete-cast boots are playfully subversive as ever, Callum Innes’ ‘Exposed Paintings’ are perhaps as intriguing for their aesthetic purity as any conceptual power, and Martin Boyce’s striking ‘Our Love is Like the Rain, the Sea and the Hours’ recasts the dullest of furniture – the striplight bulb – as a series of crystalline, almost organic hanging decorations. Yet Christine Borland’s magnificent ‘L’Homme Double’ lingers longest, a collection of six artist’s imagined casts of Josef Mengele created using only dissimilar images and contradictory reports supplied by the artist, which tell us something about history and the larger perversions of it by memory.

Scottish National Gallery, 624 6200 until 2 Nov, free.

Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland

  • 4 stars

For Generation, the Portrait Gallery shows for the first time in Scotland Luke Fowler’s 61-minute film The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott.