Galleries - March 2011

been collecting evidence of strange phenomena and her cur- rent retrospective at Tate Britain sees the artist cataloguing alien abductions, TV-induced hallucin- ations and voices from beyond the grave. Witness , 2000 is a dark- ened room in which a spectral cloud of translucent, glinting wires and circular speakers hang from the ceiling, each transmitting a tale of extraterrestrial visitation. Overall, the babel of different stories in divergent languages generates a cacophony of unint- elligible sound, but, when listened to individually, most of the narra- tives are delivered with such calm conviction that incredulity soon begins to slip. Hiller’s work exam- ines how recollection can make long-dead events – even those that probably never happened – appear vitally alive in the present. Pryle Behrman FEELGOOD FACTOR From the early 20th C. through the Depression, the War and into the cultural changes of the 1960s, American illustrator Norman Rock- well famously painted his way into the heart, if not the very fabric of American life. His work – mostly in oil, bluntly uses the art of visual shorthand to impart a narrative – “If it doesn’t strike me immediately . . . I don’t want it. And neither does the public. They won’t spend an hour figuring it out. It’s got to hit them” was the advice on cover design from his editor. They are fastidiously detailed (he used Hasting’s shingle beach on 19 March at high tide . . . UP CLOSE & PERSONAL In an age of jumbo sized block- buster shows it always makes a pleasant change to be offered small scale exhibitions that resist turning art into a showbiz/cultural tourist spectacle. Thankfully, out- side the Edinburgh Festival period, the NGS presents a series of study displays, usually involving less well known works from their own collections. A current exam- ple of this approach is ‘The Young Vermeer’ – a fascinating examin- ation of three early and untypical pictures which draws to our attention the difficult challenges the Dutch master faced in estab- lishing his initial reputation. Now there is this new exhibition, The Artist Up Close, ( National Gallery of Scotland ) dealing with the world of Scottish artists in the form of self-portraits and admiring images by their family and friends. Pared down to around 30 portraits the viewer is not rushed or over- whelmed – but allowed, in their own time, to build up a more personal and intimate bond with the individual artistic personalities on show. Bill Hare MEMORY PLAY Ever since she disavowed her early training as an anthropologist (disillusioned with what she con- sidered its rather specious claims of objectivity), Susan Hiller has photography) highly coloured, often sweetly sentimental and are underscored by a hearty dose of the patriotic idealism of the age. Rockwell’s career began at Boys’ Life (the scouting magazine) in his teens before moving to New York with his family where in 1916, at the age of 22, he produced the first of many covers for the Sat- urday Evening Post . Dulwich Pic- ture Gallery has cleverly shoe- horned the show – including every cover Rockwell did for the Post (323) – into a series of small gall- ery spaces; this means that (on the Sunday I visited) the friendly, noisy crowd, jostling good-nature- dly for a view, seemed to reflect the very characters of the pictures on the walls. Heartwarming, char- ming and endlessly humorous – this is one for a cold and wet afternoon. CM UP CLOSE & PERSONAL.2 Cyber giants Google are using their street view technology to present tours of major art mus- eums including the National Gall- ery and Tate Britain. They also offer zoom-in close ups of one picture from each of the 17 gall- eries: see Holbein’s Ambassadors (NG) online in brush-stroke detail. T omScase ‘FourCropRotation’atPiersFeetham. Mark Hamilton , ‘Introspection’ at Renaissance Photography. Image from Conflicts in Time at Hastings Arts Forum. Norman Rockwell, ‘Char- women in Theatre’, at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. William Strang ‘Self Portrait’ from The Artist Close Up at the National Gallery of Scot- land. Susan Hiller, ‘Witness’ 2000 at Tate Britain PUBLICEYE 9. GALLERIES MARCH 11