The Italian Connection at City Art Centre

Consider visiting Edinburgh’s City Art Centre this week where The Italian Connection is being hosted to celebrate the creative link between Scotland and Italy.

The exhibition has an impressive array of artwork ranging all the way from 1736 up to 2009, a panoply of mediums and various artists including Eduardo Paolozzi, Elizabeth Blackadder, Stanley Cursiter and John Duncan. Many of the pieces document the journey through the ages of Scottish artistic tradition in which artists and students of art flocked to Italy in search of inspiration.

The exhibition offers a chance to reflect upon the cultural connection between the two countries – most of the artists features in the gallery are born, or have been raised in Scotland and, furthermore, many are from aristocratic families which allowed them to sojourn in cities like Florence, Rome, and Venice. The abundance of such artists from such similar walks of life may leave the exhibition open to accusations of leaving more to be desired; the other side of the story, how the culture of Scotland affected Italy or the many Italian immigrants that lived in Scotland at the time, is not told. This disparity in itself however is interesting to explore.

Whilst art is extremely personal in its interpretation and expression, Cursiter’s Synthesis of the Supper Room at an Arts Club Reception is radically different from the rest of the works due to the Futuristic scene demanding attention from every viewer. Faces and bodies bleed into each other through bold colours and hard shapes, creating a strange juxtaposition of visual imagery. Each time a viewer shifts their gaze, there is something new to see, something more, as if this painting contains a never-ending experience of the Supper Room where time does not exist, where one might get lost forever.

A Rainy Night in Rome by David Bone creates a sombre atmosphere in which Bone’s sense of unhappiness is reflected in the black void of the sky and the harsh etchings of rain. After relocating to Italy, Bone made a comment on the difficulty of finding originality: “there was nothing left there for the artist: every art cat in the world had been there and the plate had been licked clean.” His concerns are perhaps still relevant in a world which is so creatively competitive, but ironically the gallery within which his painting hangs contradicts Bone’s statement and demonstrates the limitlessness of art inspiring a beautiful sense of hope in the future of creative expression.

Image: Karuna Rahman

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