Galleries - April 2010

relationship to the chromatic unity of the overall pictorial image. Fur- thermore, Scouller appears to carry out this extremely difficult process with such eloquent ease that the only word to describe his stylistic achievement is the highest form of praise in Italian Renais- sance terms – sprezzatura ! It is appropriate that Glen Scouller is having this well earned com- memorative exhibition at the Bill- cliffe Gallery in Glasgow. Roger Billcliffe, apart from running a suc- cessful gallery, has also long been the major champion of the founders of Scottish modernism – The Glasgow Boys. It was they more than any who set a new course in Scottish painting which is still very much with us north of the Border. Glen Scouller is one of their notable successors. “The Boys” and The Colourists quickly realised that modern painting would have to be radically differ- ent from what that art had been in the past. Instead of the previous concern with rendering material form through perspective and chiaroscuro, the new painter needed to concentrate on evoking the sensual experience and sen- sations of intangible elements such as light, colour, atmosphere etc. Pictures now had to be paint- ings. Through his dedicated ca- reer Scouller has become a master in capturing such elusive painterly effects. For his 60th birth- day show the artist has produced a rich array of work from three subject sources – a recent visit to Puglia, the snow covered land- scape around his studio in Ayr- shire and a series of dazzling still lives of which he is a past master. Yet, irrespective of whatever sub- ject holds his attention, the defin- ing mark of all Scouller’s dazzling painting is his consummate skill in placing each appropriate brush- stroke in a perfectly harmonious Pop art is always an easy sell – all those bright-hued simulacra of our everyday surroundings – so credit to Serpentine Gallery (to 25 April) for mounting a retrospective of Richard Hamilton that steers clear of his sobriquet as the “Father of Pop” and focuses instead on his less crowd-pleasing political works. Titled ‘Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters’ (echoing William Hogarth’s “modern moral sub- jects”), the exhibition features trenchant, anti-martial pronounce- ments spanning more than 40 years. In some of the pieces Hamilton wears his political heart so plainly on his sleeve that there is little genuinely insightful analy- sis. Shock and Awe , 2007-8 sees Tony Blair digitally reconfigured into an all-American gunslinger standing grimly, High Noon -style, before a razed, apocalyptic land- scape. For those opposed to Blair’s wars, the picture lacks any real punch; for those in favour it could be welcomed (contrary to Hamilton’s intentions of course) by making opposing views seem glib and superficial. Far more nu- anced is a trio of paintings about Northern Ireland’s Troubles: one depicts an Orangeman in full regalia, exuding a steely self- confidence; another shows a Republican prisoner mid-‘dirty protest’, surrounded by excrement but posed like Jesus; finally there is a British squaddie, pacing ten- tatively with insecure eyes that say “Why am I here?” and, more perti- nently, “What good am I doing?” Hamilton frequently reinterprets a resonant image in an impressive array of media and styles, as seen with a press snapshot of Mick Jagger handcuffed to art dealer Robert Fraser, shown here in no less than 10 variations. At his best, Hamilton is a master at exploring the viral power some images possess to recur endlessly and, importantly, he demonstrates how their meaning can be endlessly manipulated too. GLEN SCOULLER B ill Hare R ICHARD HAMILTON P ryle Behrman G len Scouller ‘Hedgerow & Snowdrifts, Ayrshire’ (detail). Billcliffe Gallery Richard Hamilton ‘The Citizen’ © 2010 Richard Hamilton. Serpentine Gallery 11. GALLERIES APRIL 10