Skip to main content

Emil Nolde – Colour is Life

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern 2, Edinburgh until October 21st
Four stars

Sex, God and the transcendent tangle of both are the prime pulses behind this collection of more than 100 paintings, drawing, watercolours and prints by one of Germany’s most significant expressionists, brought together in all their contrary glory. Here, after all, is an artist who put faith in National Socialism in the hope that avant-garde art would become a central tenet of government thinking, but whose abstractions were ridiculed in the Nazis’ notorious 1937 Degenerate Art exhibition.

Despite this, a primal fervour remained at the heart of Nolde’s work both before and after being officially black-balled from the art world in ways that all but bursts through the frame. This is the case with the self-deification of Free Spirit (1906) as much as the rapture of Ecstasy (1929), in which a naked Mary is painted at the point of conceiving Jesus, and the sensory abandonment of Candle Dancers (1912). In terms of come-down, Paradise Lost (1921) finds a terrified-looking Adam and Eve hunched on the ground, side by side but very much apart as they guiltily regret the night before.

For all the brutal grotesquery of Nolde’s ‘Unpainted Pictures’, made during his artistic exile, Nolde’s pursuit of intimacy is best captured in Young Couple (1913), eight lithographs of the same image in different colours. Seen side by side, they resemble a Jules Feiffer party scene that perfectly encapsulates Nolde’s ever-changing moods. 

The List, July 2018



ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…