Skip to main content

Beyond Realism: Dada and Surrealism from the National Galleries of Scotland

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), Edinburgh
Four stars

On the off-kilter face of it, My Windows Look Sideways (1939) appears to be a relatively modest contribution to this expanded two-room compendium of Dada and Surrealist heavyweights. Yet, as Roland Penrose’s playful mix of words and colours hangs above the exhibition entrance/exit, it is the perfect pinned-up welcome mat for a still iconoclastic non-movement.

Penrose was a key figure in Surrealism, as organiser and collector as much as artist. He put together the International Surrealist Exhibition in London during 1936, and it is his acquired archive that forms much of the source for the more than 40 works by 17 artists. The rest of the gang are all here, from the pages of Andre Breton’s original Surrealist manifesto and documents from Tristan Tzara’s Zurich-based Cabaret Voltaire club onwards.

Look, there’s Pablo Picasso, all angles in Nude Woman lying on the beach in the sun (1932) and the wonky-headed but grin-bright visage in Portrait of Lee Miller (1937). And there’s Salvador Dali and Edward James’ cartoon super-villain styled Lobster Telephone (1938). There’s an entire wall-load of Magritte, and another of Max Ernst, who, in different ways, from the deceptively serene flying machines in Magritte’s Le Drapeau Noir (1937) to the dark entries of Ernst’s La Foret (1928), point the way for future sci-fi artists to come.

Less obviously familiar works by the likes of Scottish surrealist Edward Baird,
Czech artist Toyen, aka Marie Cerminova and the army of amoeba-like shapes in Yves Tanguy’s Le Ruban des excess (1932) are just as vital. As is Leonora Carrington’s Portrait of Max Ernst (1939), which casts her lover in a red feather robe aloft a frozen landscape. This is hung opposite a case of Carrington’s typed letters to Penrose that are full of plots, schemes and proposals that suggest, in the Surrealists’ brave new world, anything was possible. 

The List, August 2019

ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

David Bates – La Clique Noel, The Famous Spiegeltent and Edinburgh's Christmas

Less than a year ago, David Bates thought he might well be done with Edinburgh. The owner and producer of the Famous Spiegeltent, who had transformed a ninety-seven year old construction into a global brand which in part had come to define the spirit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, had been told that the site the Famous Spiegeltent had operated out of in St Andrew Square since 2014 was no longer available. Essential Edinburgh, who manage the site, said they wanted the Gardens to return to a “relaxation space,” although the short notice of their decision left the Famous Spiegeltent without a home for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.   All this created a bit of a kerfuffle, exacerbated somewhat by Edinburgh International Festival using St Andrew Square for this year's Standard Life sponsored opening event, the light-based spectacular, Bloom. Ten months on, Bates is back in Edinburgh even if the Famous Spiegeltent as a physical entity isn't. A different spiegeltent is here, howeve