Festival: Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, various venues, Glasgow, until May 7 2012
From piles of sawdust to synthetic diamonds, Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art is a sort of visual tapas, not to mention a garden shed of different materials.
The festival takes the form of a series of bite size exhibitions in venues across the city, whch are perfect to dip into and out of. Rather like a good meal, interaction and involvement with the art seems to be postively encouraged.
A highlight of the festival is Karla Black’s double installation, Empty Now and Will Attach, at GoMA, a pair of site specific sculptures that blend and contrast with the architecture of the gallery itself.
The mattress-like bed of sawdust decked with wreaths of clear cellophane and nail varnish defies specific interpretation, but it's enough just to revel in the joy of the shapes and materials.
This is undoubtedly a sculpture that would be pleasing to all the senses. It's hard to resist throwing yourself onto it just to see what it feels like, if only the guards weren't there…
Another sculpture that you are definitely meant to jump on is Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege. The life-sized inflatable Stonehenge explores the theme of play and encourages adults to enjoy themselves. It also confronts issues of our heritage being closed off and limitations on public access and right to gather.
Situated as it is on Glasgow Green, it has rather the look of the real Stonehenge from a distance, and is more readily accessible, and probably less busy, now than it will be during the Olympics, when it moves to London.
Rosalind Nashashibi’s film commission, Lovely Young People (Beautiful Supple Bodies), at the GI Festival Hub demystifies the rarified world of the ballet company with its behind the scenes look at Scottish Ballet when it opened its doors to the public for a day.
The film focuses on the dancers - as people - and the viewers' responses to them. Microphones around the room pick up private conversations between them: two dancers catch up on each other’s New Year while old ladies make sotto voce comments: "Imagine doing that as your job!’, "Look at those supple bodies!"
© Photo Jenni Davidson
Dutch artist Folkert de Jong’s fantastical sculptures, The Immortals, at Glasgow School of Art merge fairy tale and theatre with their garish splatterings of paint and dramatic mid-performance poses.
De Jong’s foam figures take inspiration from Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald, who are depicted up a ladder surveying the room.
Not quite as impressive was the exhibition of Richard Wright's drawings at Kelvingrove. There was nothing wrong with them - they are interesting in themselves, as workings of colour and shape on paper, and a rare chance to see such a collection of Wright's work in one place - but they lacked the magic of his full-scale, in situ pieces.
Teresa Margolles' exhibition at Glasgow Sculpture Studios was also a little disappointing, but suffered mainly from its location. Having trekked through a council estate and an unmarked building site to try and find the studio, whatever was at the end was almost inevitably going to be an anti-climax.
The curated photographs by Mexican photographer Luis Alvarado of lucha libre wrestlers, 80s meringue-dressed brides and gangster's families are an interesting social snapshot, and the synthetic diamond formed from the debris of the Croydon riots a beautiful symbol, but there needed to be more to justify the location of the venue.
On the other hand, The Common Guild's house-turned-gallery on Woodlands Terrace was as much an exhibit as Wolfgang Tillmans photographs on show there.
With more than 50 venues, the sheer numbers of different galleries and workshops, many of them artist owned and run, demonstrates just how much is going on in the Glasgow contemporary art scene.
The Lighthouse had a selection of work from up-and-coming young artists, and if the range of work there is anything to go by, the future of art in Glasgow is looking bright.
- For more information see www.glasgowinternational.org/
© Photo Jenni Davidson
© Photo by Jenni Davidson