Since spring this year, art venues across Scotland have been dedicating themselves to a gigantic project called Generation. Involving more than 100 artists and 60 venues, the programme is a celebration of Scottish artistic success over the past 25 years, a multifaceted retrospective that recreates lauded exhibitions of yore and puts together new ones by old faces. The scale and ambition are impressive. There are fine artists involved and a clutch of Turner champions, too. But this is an event that demonstrates there’s more to Scottish art than the ‘Glasgow Miracle’ and lays out its case all across the country.
Generation coincides with the Commonwealth Games in a kind of Cultural Olympiad way while also, of course, overlapping with a certain political matter in September. But if there is a danger that the project might stray a little too close to ‘Wha’s like us’ territory for some tastes, then reassurance is to be found in the hallowed halls of the Royal Scottish Academy.
In Generation: Open Dialogues, the oldest establishment involved in Generation is exhibiting the work of the freshest artists. Six are on show, one from each of the annual New Contemporaries graduate shows that the RSA has been running since 2009. Judging by the work here, the next generation are outward-looking painters, printmakers, sculptors and performance artists of wit, flair and imagination. Star of the show is Stuart McAdam (‘Portable Cheval de Frise’ above), who may well be Joseph Beuys’s true Scottish inheritor, with his wandering performances and cow-baffling sculptural costume.
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