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Edinburgh Festivals

Visual art 2001

Rowan Paton Risby and Nathan Huxtable

John Hudson

Untitled by Rowan Paton Risby

Many contemporary artists have moved away from traditional galleries into empty shops, cafés and warehouses. Putting art into a public space has often seemed like a radical idea.

Although it may seem to be with this exhibition a case of moving art out of one ivory tower (namely the gallery) into another (the theatre), I for one applaud it. It's one way of reaching a sympathetic audience, open to a variety of aspects of culture.

We are confronted by the difficulty of actually taking the time and looking at the artwork. Theatre bars can be awfully crowded. In such environments art has to fight against becoming mere interior design.

In this exhibition the viewer is confronted by a series of abstract and semiabstract paintings. Risby produces works that combine collage, abstract painting and text. Her palette is a combination of bright, near Day-Glo acrylics, reminiscent of those that occupy Patrick Heron's pictures. They recall a sense of optimism which probably hasn't been seen in this country since the 50's and 60's pop art heyday. She uses language in her work that is joyous and playful, with Hamiltonesque excesses, while Velvet Boy is pure glam rock (90's postmodern of course). These are glorious pop art pastiches. They compete well with the surroundings.

Map Fragment 1 by Nathan Huxtable

Nathan Huxtable seems to play a different game at first. A more varied style is evident, but we also see collage, a concern for postmodern playfulness and pastiche, with a deliberate use of modern art history. These are heavily layered paintings, with cartoon pop dots and varnish, holiday destinations, a Pete Doig-type holiday lodge and a Mondrian map, playing on Broadway Boogie-Woogie.

Where is the next destination for these two artists?

Traverse Theatre
Cambridge Street
Until 9 September


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