Coming back with their first exhibition after lockdown, the City Art Centre offers a retrospective on the Scottish art scene in the 1920s. The exhibition mostly includes artworks part of the gallery’s collection reinterpreted under a new light. Moreover, it showcases, for the first time, the collection’s new addition Cecile Walton at Crianlarich by Eric Robertson and the newly restored Garment of War by D.Y. Cameron.
The oxymoronic title of the exhibition- Bright Shadows- summarizes quite well the show’s contrasting andmultifaced nature. In the attempt to present a decade of great changes and tensions, a multitude of significantly different subject matters, styles and techniques appear in the show side by side. This curatorial approach created a slightly dispersive effect each artwork seemed to stand on its own, only loosely bound to the others by their historical contemporaneity. Themes, artistic currents and figures emerged from the captions, but their disjointed placement in the exhibition space diminished their effectiveness. Incredibly different styles were exhibited next to one another, yet the set up failed to acknowledge how their contrasting countenance and historical coexistence were a defining quality of the 1920s and how they influenced (if ever) one another.
The City Art Centre set themselves quite a challenging task in attempting to illustrate in a small exhibition (the show fits in a single floor) a whole decade of Scottish arts. The show is extremely educative both artistically and historically. It offers a preview of the complex and varied Scottish artistic panorama and some of its finest names are presented to the visitor of this exhibition. However, in Bright Shadows the written information and visual cues risk becoming overwhelming as the set up missed the chance to enhance its narrative by connecting and contrasting the works presented within the exhibition.
Image: Garment of War, D.Y. Cameron, courtesy of City Art Centre, Edinburgh.