Publication: The Times
Bruce McLean’s art — eclectic and of full of subversive energy — ranges from performance, painting and ceramics to book-making and public works. This show, although not a full retrospective, gives a flavour of this enormous range.
Scottish by birth, English by domicile but European in scope and reference, McLean rejected the stultifying atmosphere of his home patch when he moved form Glasgow to St Martin’s School of Art in the early 1960s.
For a period in the early ‘80s Mclean worked in Germany. For this reason as well as his unconventionality and his drive to work across media, it is difficult to avoid comparisons between McLean and Joseph Beuys. The German artist must have exerted a profound influence.
Here, McLean demonstrates his ability to push back the boundaries with a gigantic metal structure which dominates the gallery space. Described as a ‘conceptual’ model, and based on Pythagorean geometry, it aims to illustrate the educational principles behind a new school which McLean has helped to design. Attached to the structure are seven tables representing, for Mclean, key aspects of the ideal curriculum including nature, architecture, sound, light and social space.
Bruce McLean, Works 1969-99
Talbot Rice Gallery
0131 650 2211
Until Feb 26
When, in his native Denmark, Thomas Kluge first exhibited his full-length portrait of Paula and Michael Baillie-Hamilton dancing in Highland dress, he titled it ‘Rule Britannia’. That he was dissuaded from using the same nomenclature here is telling. The Baillie-Hamiltons own a large estate in Perthshire and whereas a celebration of their status may have been understandable in Raeburn’s time, a similar treatment today is surely open to question.
In undertaking such a work, the stance of the artist, too, comes under intense scrutiny, and neutrality becomes increasingly elusive. Pleading ironic detachment, as Kluge has done, also seems less than convincing.
So, whereas to exhibit such a work in Denmark may provoke interest, as well as helping to perpetuate a number of ‘Scotch myths’, here its charged political and social associations make any detached reading impossible.
Kluge, who is no stranger to controversy, is on safer and artistically more demanding ground in his other works where he explores self-identity, childhood and friendship.
Danish Cultural Institute
3 Doune Terrace
0131 225 7189
Until Mar 24
Tony D’Urso is one of Italy’s better known photographers. He is also as a film-maker, with a documentary on the prize-winning director Eugenio Barba numbering amongst his early credits.
Here D’Urso presents a unique record of the Italian theatrical avant-garde from the mid-’seventies to the present day. The community-oriented productions of these companies owe as much to the traditions of Commedia dell’Arte, as to the innovations of Kantor and Grotowski.
The diversity and vibrancy of the Italian scene is a model for our own.
Italian Cultural Institute
82 Nicolson Street
0131 668 2232
Until 6 Mar
Published in The Times, Around the Galleries, 23-02-00