British Art Show 8

Inverleith House Until 8th May

 

The British Art Show 8 has finally made its way to Edinburgh. A national touring exhibition of forty two artists arranged by Hayward Touring, it features everything from video-installations and sculpture to painting and design. It is, as such, a comprehensive overview of talented artists who have had an influence on the art scene in the UK for the past five years, and is highly accessible to the layman.

The central focus of the exhibition is the ever increasingly blurred boundaries between what is considered reality and what is recognised as the virtual in contemporary society, and especially as it relates to “the object” in art. The artists have highlighted this struggle with the meaning of materiality by engaging with a wide array of mediums. They act as archaeologists and historians in order to give a new meaning and explore new ways of thinking about everyday objects.

A beautiful calming walk through the Botanic Gardens in order to get to Inverleith House clears the mind and prepares one to arrive at the exhibition with a cleansed visual palate. The visitor is greeted at the start of the exhibition by Caroline Achaintre´s textile and ceramic work, mediums that were chosen for their both attractive and repulsive textures, as well as for the continuity and change that is inherent in the time-consuming production of these hand-tufted wool creations. Experimenting with minimal visual cues, Achaintre shows how subtle changes impart a variety of emotion and character to what on first inspection appears to be a lifeless carpet, but which takes on an expressive life of its own.

In the next room we find Pablo Bronstein´s whimsical architectural drawings within which he mixes and references many styles that in their juxtaposition create fantasy-like and original architecture, reminiscent of something out of a Wes Anderson film. One drawing of a building that is a greenhouse at the base but turns into an office skyscraper is particularly striking.

Bedwyr Williams´ film ‘Century Egg’, screened from a TV appearing as if it has hatched from an egg sculpture, is a humorous take on how the collection of artefacts in museums can be truly extraordinary but also at times insufferably banal. He illustrates this in a segment where he muses on the collection of old pocket calculators, receiving many laughs from spectators.

However, the favourite film installation of this reviewer was Simon Fujiwara´s ‘Hello’, which contrasts the life of a Mexican litter-picker with a German specialist in computer-generated imagery. It puts their relationships with objects and the material in sharp focus as well as the disturbing nature of the world economy and extreme disparities in living standards. The film is a riveting watch.

This exhibition features a good overview of influential UK artists and engages with an interesting and contemporary topic matter, worthwhile for a visit.

 

Image Credit: Charlotte Prodger

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