The Art and Humanities postgraduate course at Duncan of Jordanstone gives students a chance to push defined boundaries of art, embracing all forms of individual artistic output. This allows each student to explore their own defined techniques and pathways to realise their artistic expressions without limitations or restrictions.
Consider the work of Oana Mocanu: a light airy room in which the stark walls offer immediate contrast with arresting colours and details of Mocanu’s work. Several large canvasses fill the walls alongside smaller works on plinths, giving the viewer a vast array of visual content from huge painted canvasses to small detailed pencil portraits. Mocanu’s work conveys semi-fictional stories on canvas; figures float amid waves of colour; faces appear half-formed from pencil lines; unseen narratives subtly suggested to the viewer. Landscapes and relationships between figures merge, form and break apart again. Surreal yet grounded, the paintings seem to morph and take on different meaning with each subsequent aspect, slipping from recognisable forms to manic dreamscapes in a single glance.
Further down the corridor is the work of Anna Olafsson. A small wooden stool sits in the middle of the room surrounded by a large sheet of abstract drawings in black ink on canvas – a personal musical score. Olafsson embodies the fusing together of music and art, specifically the violin, focussing on drawings of the Perthshire landscape and transforming them into movement, spontaneity and life. Facing the stool is emotive video work of Olafsson performing her scores in situ. Accordingly, this performance can be seen live between 11am and 3pm at weekdays and all day long at weekends.
Minimalism and surrealism are contained in the studio next door, by the work of Chiara Braidotti. With a theme of tragedy, the installation is large and varied, full of strong and intense colours of red, white and black. The artist cleverly uses found objects from her course duration to lay narratives and sub-plots of tragedy by means of their placement throughout the gallery space. A found statue, wasps, used clothes, broken eggshells and a long deceased butterfly are only some of the materials used to convey both everyday and surreal tragedies. Mirrors, cleverly placed within the space, add a new dimension to the work, revealing the ghostly reverse of a photograph, or flipping objects on their heads to forge a new meaning in their disorientation.
Chelsea Glidden is another artist on show who plays with perception. Inspired by the “Arte Povera” movement, her momentous figurative beings rise from both organic and man-made materials, seeming to take on a life and personality of their own. It feels as if fantastical humanoid creatures are standing in the gallery space, as real and vivid in tension and poise as the viewer. The looming figures represent the colliding together of industrialisation and nature, the love-child of human interference in the environment. The materials of the figures such as wire, twigs and plastic can be seen thrusting from the bright cloak of crimson, black or yellow paint, becoming akin to injured limbs. The figures stand as if an unwanted side-effect of our creation, the by-product of drifting further from nature.
In the studio adjacent lies the work of Joletta Thorburn. With a basis in printmaking, drawing and painting, she twists photographs of human forms into tense, straining fictional masses. The figures seem to morph and change into something otherworldly and unknown to the viewer – a disturbed sense of familiarity yet unease creeps into the work, engaging and thought-provoking. The work appears presented less like a gallery space than a studio space, allowing raw creative thought to splurge and dance, unfiltered onto the naked white walls.
What is on offer from this year’s Art & Humanities course is a great insight into the Contemporary Art going on around Dundee at the moment and with the various events and performances throughout the week as well as the fantastic work on show, it is not to be missed.