International Festival; VISUAL ARTS Gerhard Richter; Precious Cargo; the Scottish Colourists; George Houston
Ingleby, Richard, The Independent (London, England)
One of the odder features of the official Edinburgh Festival in recent years has been its complete failure to embrace the visual arts. There was a time when a major exhibition was one of the highlights of the programme, but for some years now the town's galleries have been left outside the celebrations.
Happily, this lack of interest hasn't stopped Edinburgh's museums and commercial galleries from mounting some fine exhibitions under their own steam, but it does mean that there's little focus or sense of communal purpose behind most of the art on show. This year is no exception. Besides the four exhibitions staged by the National Galleries of Scotland (already reviewed in these pages), there are at least 70 others scattered throughout the town with barely a link between them.
Gerhard Richter, who shows at the Fruitmarket Gallery, is probably Germany's best known living artist, famous for his blurry view of the world. This is an ambitious survey of his Multiples, by which they mean every editioned picture and object that he has made since 1965, including photographs, prints, books, a couple of sculptures and even a few oil paintings in editions of 110. Sadly we are only shown one of each, so there's no telling if or how these supposedly identical paintings differ. The first work that one sees is one of the earliest and also the best: Pyramid from 1966, an out-of-focus view of the Egyptian landscape, very simple and solid and strangely moving. At the other end of the exhibition, one of Richter's most celebrated images, a painting of his daughter Betty (a painting that he made to replicate a photograph) has been made into a photographic print: it began as a photograph, it became a painting, it turned back into a photograph. All very clever, if printing processes are your thing, but I suspect that his motivation may be as much financial as artistic. …