Mystics or Rationalists? @ Ingleby Gallery
“Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.” Number one in Sol LeWitt’s famous Sentences on Conceptual Art (1971) provides the title for the group show of conceptual heavyweights at Ingleby Gallery for the Edinburgh Art Festival.
LeWitt’s Sentences are forty years old now but they could easily be referring to the art of today – with similar criticisms levelled at it, and similar conflicting ideas of what an artist is.
For Jeremy Millar, the artist is akin to a shaman, taking objects from the world and divining their significance. Sitting on a bed of purifying rock salt, his mirrored cubes hark back to the classic conceptualist Robert Morris who famously exhibited mirrored cubes way back in 1965.
The impressive line-up also includes Cornelia Parker, the artist who persuaded the British Army to blow up a garden shed for her, suspending the remaining pieces in an atmospheric installation. Here she presents a page of silver, fashioned from the residue left over from the photographic developing process. The mirror-like surface hints at the ghosts of old images.
Susan Collis also makes work in which all is not what it seems. What appears to be a line of white spattered paint on the gallery floor is in fact Collis’ Down to the Mother (2008): a line of finely inlaid discs of mother of pearl.
Others in the show share this inclination to elevate the banal. Ceal Floyer’s previous works include Nail Biting Performance (2001), in which she stood on the stage of Birmingham Symphony Hall and bit her nails into a microphone.
Also boasting Cerith Wyn Evans, Katie Paterson and Susan Hiller, the show promises to be visually succinct but intellectually complex – better go with your head screwed on. As LeWitt noted, “The idea is the machine that makes the art.” [Jac Mantle]