NOW is the second instalment of a six-part series showcasing recent contemporary art made in Scotland. Spanning several rooms and six artists, the exhibition is composed of a diverse range of both materials and subjects.
Central to the exhibition is a sound work by Susan Philipsz, installed across multiple silver record players placed on plinths. The harmonic yet slightly eerie sound piece can be heard prior to entering the room, tempting viewers into the silver labyrinth of musical devices. Within this artwork Philipsz examines the motif of falling tears, drawing on the musical composition by composer John Dowland.
In contrast to the temporality of sound art, Michael Armitage’s paintings hang proudly in a sister room, depicting colourful and lively scenes drawn from his time spent living in Kenya. Highly visceral in the fluidity of his brush stroke, Armitage’s depictions of local village life seep into the gallery space to the point that the laughter, chatter and dancing of his subjects seem tangible to the viewer.
This sense of human presence can also be seen in the work of Kate Davis, who presents dolls from The Museum of Childhood alongside her pencil drawings. Examining hierarchies between objects and drawings, Davis explores the significance of relationships through her practice. Similarly, Yto Barrada utilises dolls collected during missionary expeditions to Africa to explore how objects can symbolise a given point in time.
Gradually, through circulating the rooms and piecing together recurring motifs it becomes clear that relationships, storytelling and memory are an undercurrent to the works throughout the show. Explicitly demonstrated through the presence of children’s toys, a subtler representation of these themes can be seen in Hiwa K’s duel-video projection which juxtaposes a munitions yard in Iraq with a bell making foundry in Italy. Two contrasting worlds collide as bells become fabricated from war metal waste, as war material is welded into elegant metal beauty. Correlating to the video projection of detritus-filled Iraq, Sarah Rose uses material and sound to explore the ecological impact humans have on living environments.
A dynamic and multi-media exhibition, NOW is a material journey through time, space and storytelling.