Dovecot Studios, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh
Exhibition running until August 29
Open daily 10am – 6pm
The Scottish Endarkenment: Art and Unreason. 1945 to the Present at the Dovecot Gallery presents a cross-section of a rarely seen side of Scottish art. Exhibiting works from some of Scotland’s most celebrated and inventive artists, from Paolozzi to Bellany, the exhibition purports to shine a light on the darker edges of Scottish art and, not to spoil anything, it certainly delivers.
Entering the first room of the exhibition is like walking into a sweet shop. The space is used incredibly efficiently and it is hard to decide where to start. I chose to examine the left alcove first, which contained works by Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison Watt and Julie Roberts. These pieces all touch on themes of mortality, death and infliction. The curators have succeeded in grouping works by very different artists into distinct themes without having to force it down your throat. The pieces across the exhibition work in harmony, despite being from very different mediums and with many being quite shocking and disturbing.
However, the piece which truly dominates the first room, and which was rightly chosen to be the poster piece for the exhibition is Calton Hill, by Jock McFadyen. A huge work which takes up almost a whole wall, it depicts a huge moonrise over a tiny, almost insignificant Edinburgh along the very bottom edge of the painting. The painting makes fantastic use of negative space which makes one think on the themes of darkness and void of the rest of the exhibition.
The second room is home to my personal favourite work, Opticon 4. Made entirely from parts of old wooden tools, pieced together to cover the entire canvas, Kevin Harman has created a piece, though relatively simple in concept, which one can look at all day. The knowledge of the hard work which went into its creation, which is reinforced by the hard work which the shards of broken tools represents, adds hugely to one’s enjoyment of the piece.
The Scottish Endarkenment is a real standout show in the huge number of exhibitions which take over the city during the festival. It is now entering its last few days and if you haven’t seen it I urge you to head down to Dovecot and see these incredible works of at in all of their wonderful and disturbing glory!