The Darkest Dreams exhibition is situated in the Lamb Gallery on the first floor of Dundee University Tower Building. It features works from a variety of artists gathered together by Dundee University Fine Art Collection. The artworks on display date from around the 1960s’ to more contemporary times and include contributions from Dundee University graduates, current members of staff and other notable artists connected to the University. We can enjoy works by artists such as John Robertson, Arthur Rackham, Graeme Todd, Tommy Crooks, Alan Michael, Derrick Guild, Edward Summerton, and Mary Modeen, amongst others.
The connecting theme running through the exhibition is, as the title of the display already hints, that of our darkest dreams and nightmares, of secret fears and passions and of bizarre visions that lure us both at night and during the day. We are invited to wander through the shadowy landscapes of the hidden corners of our hearts and minds and to explore what usually lies behind the curtain. The presented artworks range from drawings and paintings to large prints, and vary not only in the mediums used but also in the scenes depicted. Although this provides a large and fascinating scale for the representation of the ‘darkest dreams’, the downside is that the collection might seem a bit scattered and lacking in coherence, as the theme itself does not offer a sufficiently strong and connecting background. This lack of structure is only accentuated by the fact that the works are displayed in what seems to be a random order, with no regard to their author, the time they were produced, or the format and medium used. Nevertheless, as to the individual pieces in the exhibit, we can appreciate the skilful mastery of a number of works.
Drawing as it does on the ideas of psychoanalysis and the interpretation of dreams, the theme of the exhibition is exciting and has a great potential. As Sigmund Freud writes in his ‘Interpretation of Dreams’: “The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.” Ideally, the visitor’s imagination and his inner desires would be partly satisfied by seeing the exhibition, reflecting on it and relating it to themselves, yet due to the lack of concord between the presented pieces this does not fully happen. It would be interesting to see the display worked out on a larger scale and in a more organised form.
The airy bright space of the open Lamb Gallery offers a surprising contrast to the dark theme of the exhibited works. The visitor can walk around the mezzanine without necessarily feeling affected by the dark voids that the exhibition intends to stir. For such a thematic exhibition, one would expect a more atmospheric space.There are paper cards provided for visitors of the exhibition to write and share their opinions on the works displayed. Some of these cards are showcased next to the artworks, thus offering interesting insights on the variety of meanings each piece can have for different visitors.
Darkest Dreams is a small exhibition, but is worth seeing if you find yourself on the Dundee University campus, and if you share a macabre taste for some intriguingly dark paintings.