TWENTY at Ingleby Gallery

Ringing a doorbell and being let in by a friendly individual is more of what someone could expect from a hospitable friend than an art gallery. This is New Town’s Ingleby Gallery, recently opened as a celebration of 20 years exhibiting in Edinburgh.

Situated on the upper level of the gallery, the anniversary’s companion exhibition TWENTY strengthens this oddly informal impression. The so-called ‘Feasting Room’ holds the majority of the collection, and the visitor is struck more by the image of an open-plan dining and living room than by the works that cover its walls. There are a few interesting works to be found here such as Callum Innes’ ‘Exposed Painting Blue Violet.’ The use of simple colours and brush strokes, albeit in an admittedly over-used reflexive style, nevertheless leaves the viewer with a calming abstract impression of quiet dawn over a reed-edged lake.

Jonathan Owen’s ‘Eraser Drawing (American Comedy)’, a partially erased book page where the people holding two glasses of wine have been removed, leaves the impression that the notably absent bodies are of less substance than the wine they are holding. There is a certain ironic glee to be found in imagining the household this work is likely to end up in. The majority of the collection, however, is reduced to mere decoration; the selling of throws and ‘rustic’ crockery cheapens the experience and leaves you with the thought that a trip to IKEA might have been more worthwhile.

On leaving, Peter Liversidge’s ‘Mask’ becomes visible, stuck above the poorly-lit doorway. If a piece of art is only worth being hung in this most inconspicuous of places, perhaps it is not worth displaying at all. Although, if there is anyone in the world who deems Damien Hirst’s diamond skull ‘For The Love of God’ a respectable piece of art, this similarly vacuous work of an imitation gold leaf skull on black cardboard is an affordable alternative.

One is almost scared to enter the other ‘Office’ exhibition rooms for fear of intruding upon someone at work. A MacBook and credit card complete with bank letter could be found on the desk in one room; it is unclear whether having valuables lying around was intended as a visceral experience which challenges thoughts of theft. More likely the staff decided that any visitor to the gallery would have no economic motive to steal.

The lasting impression here is of having been to a high-end flat viewing rather than an art show. Needless to say that this visitor will not, for many reasons, be putting an offer in.

Image: Molly Brierly-Rimmer 

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