Magazine article Art Monthly

The Associates

Magazine article Art Monthly

The Associates

Article excerpt

* The Associates

Dundee Contemporary Arts 20 March to 21 June

'Prime' was the first exhibition to be shown at Dundee Contemporary Arts when it opened in 1999. Ten years later, the place has more or less fulfilled its aim to bring a fluctuating programme of local and international art beyond the major cities of Scotland. Cause then for celebration, and reflection too, of the changes that have taken place in Dundee since that time. Seventeen artists have been selected to represent these changes, all Duncan of Jordanstone College graduates whose careers have grown alongside DCA over the past decade, and all of them aged under 45.

Though this exhibition highlights just how many young artists from Dundee have developed international careers in the past decade or so, its real purpose is to find a possible root for this creativity, which is distinctly Dundonian. In shamelessly pinching the title from The Associates, the highly successful new wave punk group from 1980s Dundee, their influence upon the showcased artists is inherently implied. Whether this is entirely fitting or not is less relevant than the fact that music has had an impact on many of the artists in the show, while a neo-romantic sensibility characteristic of that era seems to echo throughout. The music into art equation is more commonly associated with Glasgow, so it is hardly surprising that many of these artists moved there after graduating, and are now represented by galleries such as Sorcha Dallas and The Modern Institute. However, Dundee is still party to a range of happenings and events which encourage the creative exchange of ideas, something the curators at DCA are keen to push; not content with Dundee as the 'City of Discovery', they prefer 'City of Disco'.

Two aspects of music have influenced the exhibition layout. The first, largest space has been likened by curator Graham Domke to 'Top of the Pops sets from a late 70s and early 80s heyday', while the smaller spaces are quieter where, Domke says, 'one could imagine reading the inkies the music weeklies like NME, Melody Maker and Sounds'. It is an effective contrast, and one that seems to suit the range of styles within each part of the show.

Within the largest space, the most dominant voices are those of Lucy McKenzie and Alan Michael, who have essentially collaborated to create a mock interior. McKenzie's three large panel paintings, Walls, 2008, are part art deco, part gaudy 1980s style, brought together to create a three-sided room. Hung on each of McKenzie's faux walls is a painting by Michael, two of these in his distinctive painted-text style, with the third, Regent Street, 2009, portraying a hyper-realist street scene reflected in a shop window, acting as a symbol for excess. The collaboration is fitting, with both artists shrewdly demonstrating an awareness of painting's dual function as interior decoration and site for critical debate. Graham Little continues the 1980s aesthetic with two heavily contrasting works. The first, Facts are Stupid Things (fruit vs. fashion), 2007, is a floor-based sculpture composed of many geometric parts of plywood, each decorated with kitsch and contrasting patterns. When compared with his soft, romantic drawing of a young girl, in Untitled, 2002, Little unfolds as an artist appropriating a range of styles, much like McKenzie and Michael.

Raydale Dower, too, successfully demonstrates a multi-disciplinary approach, concerned with exploring various ways of penetrating space. …

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