Galleries - October 2010

12. GALLERIES OCTOBER 10 T RIPLE VISION A NDREW LANYON Bizarre and incongruous as it may now seem to visualise a Nazi pres- ence in Cornwall, in St Ives, as war loomed pre-1939, this became a reality. Von Ribbentrop, then Ger- man Ambassador, developed a passion for the place becoming a frequent visitor and even boasting that, with eventual German victory, Hitler would give him, not just St Michael's Mount, the historic off shore island whose castle he saw himself inhabiting, but the whole of Cornwall. Andrew Lanyon has taken these already surreal im- ages and woven them into a med- itation on art and war, linking their mutual iconoclasm to investigate both paranoia and the power of the imagination. While the people of St Ives became increasingly suspicious of the Nazi presence, was a similar time bomb in the form of Abstraction perhaps not being lobbed into their midst by Ben Nicholson and his coterie of refugee artists? Lanyon is that rare thing – a visual artist with a feeling for storytelling and a sensitivity to language and the written word. With paintings, constructs and black box 'theatres of war', his ex- hibition at Kestle Barton and its accompanying book takes us on an extraordinary journey – part history lesson, part fairytale – that explores the workings of the human psyche under threat of Götterdämmerung. Pip Palmer MICHAEL SCOTT “Everybody is just this side of melancholy – oh, and young. Downcast eyes of those who don’t quite know what is going on. Little epiphanies. Dream states.” So re- flected Michael Scott about the look of his paintings in 2005, a year before his sadly premature death and it is a very fair, if typi- cally self-effacing, observation about a body of paintings that traverses a wide range of themes and ideas and an art that tackles some profound human issues, no- tably the dehumanising conditions of contemporary life. His is an extraordinary story: son of a poor Peterhead fisher- man, he went on to study social science, eventually teaching the Sociology of Modernism and Post Modernism at Glasgow Caledon- ian Museum. All the while though he was studying painting at John Boyd’s evening classes at Glas- gow School of Art, exhibiting reg- ularly and professionally before giving up teaching to paint full- time in 1995. This retrospective at Roger Bill- cliffe , which coincides with the publication of a book on his work (Aristaeus Press), reveals an artist who emerges from total immer- sion in Cubism to create a subtle and tender narrative art that re- mains uncompromisingly contem- porary in its social and human concerns. NU ALBERT IRVIN Abstract artists have an unques- tionably hard time of it in this country, the old antipathies to the form running surprisingly deep. Alan Davie, for, example, has never had anything like the proper recognition his genius deserves and nor, only two years younger at 88, has Albert Irvin. Now, remarkably, given the con- tinuing vigour, volume and techni- cal aplomb of his latest work – as witnessed at Advanced Graphics near London Bridge – it is extraor- dinary to recall that Irvin only really achieved that much wider critical and gallery recognition when Gimpel Fils took him up in the 1970s and he was given a first major public showing at the Ser- pentine in 1989, at the age of 66. Anyway that is all now very much in the past, this new show, which also marks the publication of a major new volume (by Mary Rose Beaumont and published by Advanced Graphics themselves) documenting the whole of Irvin’s printmaking output. Though he came to printmaking only really in his 50s, that output has still been enormous and this show, limited by space considerations to the more recent work means that the rest of it will be seen in a major show in December at King’s Place Gallery . Tenacity and self- belief are paramount, it would seem . . . Blake Hall Michael Scott ‘Smelling the Earth’ Albert Irvin ‘Trinity II’ Andrew Lanyon ‘No Drawing’