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Roger Hiorns, British Art Show 7

With a preview of the British Art Show 7, the Glasgow tramway venue is a buzz. Suddenly the chatter lowers to an excited murmur as a plain metal bench has burst in flames in the centre of the exhibition and a young naked male is silently observing. The presence of an attendant from the gallery clutching a protective blanket and the exhibition fence are the only indications this is art and not an over enthusiastic art lover.

This is a work by Roger Hiorns, one of two of his and who has an interest in the transformation of material as well as ideas that has also led to him injecting cows’ brains that are liquefied into a crack in the walls of the Tramway. It is easy to view it as emperor’s new clothes with animal waste, naked men and earth and bricks, is it really art. But these are the types of questions the British Art Show should inspire.

Alasdair Gray is the elder one in the group whether he agrees or not and his bold drawings full of colour, framed and hung along the walls of the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Seeing those, no one could ever accuse his of not having the ability to draw.

The sculptures of Sarah Lucas’ lint from a tumble drier inside stockings are strange but there shapes of flesh on plinths bring to mind a tradition of art from Henry Moore to Lucien Freud. And while the works just might seem ephemeral – often made of mud and sand instead of paint and canvas, the creators expect them to last through the next exhibition giving instructions how to recreate it and often doing it themselves.

There are nine Scots in the show this year with the London based curators expressing that Scotland is a force in the contemporary art scene. A far cry from 1990 when the British Art Show last made it to Glasgow and despite the culture in the capital city scene, not a Scottish artist was included. The change in 21 years is that artists can stay and do not have to leave for London as they did before.




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