Whitespace gallery hosts life-drawing classes on Thursday and Sunday. It is one of many art spaces, like the Edinburgh Printmakers, that are trying to offer people ways to get involved in producing art, aside from staring at pictures on the wall which are daring the observer to “question what is painting.” For Reasons Unknown to Me (the name was chosen randomly out of the working-class classic The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist) bring together four Scottish artists practicing on different mediums: paint, sculpture, and photography. Whitespace was set up in a rather traditional manner at the opening, with drinks and small paper cups of pretzels by the entrance, and nondescript stickers by the work describing the artists interpretation. In the centre of the room, an umbrella, hung upside down like a riverboat, spun indefinitely as the audience shuffled around it. It was powered by a small, black motor taken from a stall at the Edinburgh Christmas Market, the original purpose of which was to advertise gaudier art for front porches and beach houses.
Despite the imposing, clinical setting of the gallery space, the artists were adamant in demonstrating they merely wanted to display and explore themes in their work and engage with an audience. The most immediately engaging was Michael Kay, whose work examined mundane interactions and the dismantling of sculptures into useless collections of objects. In one video, dotingly rendered on tiny, portable TVs the size of shoeboxes, a hand replaces paper cups being blown off the table by a fan. The process repeats indefinitely, as spins the umbrella. In another video, an energetic Kay stomps on a foot pump for the better part of the evening, blowing up a massive balloon. After five minutes, the suspense is unbearable.
Photographers Sam Wood and Christina Webber displayed beautiful prints, though using disparate source material. Webber’s photography was sullen, with characters erased from the frame and displaced into a bright void. Familiar scenes became alien when the human was removed from them. Wood’s work was equally alien, focusing on non-details and lines created in the recesses of cities and stark suburbias where nobody looks. The most fascinating of these photos was a velvet curtain descending onto a floral carpet. It was waiting for someone, like all the empty backdrops Wood photographs, to give it attention.
Beth Carey addressed a distinctly muted color palette at the exhibition, and used the most traditional medium. She approached her work with an innovative eye, using asemic techniques to mirror the natural growth of texture and contrast in flora. Paints were chosen carefully, so that the explosions of color and swirling oil she laid to canvas contained organic inertia. The paint flows like lichen growing over subterranean rock, and pastel backgrounds she laid her constructions against acted in opposition to Webber and Wood’s observed void. This was a created void, found in over-stimulation, and not emerging out of a lack for it.
Image courtesy of Sam Wood