Raoul Reynolds @ Scotland Street School, Glasgow

Scotland Street host fictional artist Raoul Reynolds for their Glasgow International presentation. Constructing an entire biography and opus for a retrospective seems ambitious, but the piece has its interesting moments.

Review by Kristina Žalytė | 10 May 2016

Attributed to a mysterious unknown artist named as Raoul Reynolds, this so-called retrospective at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Scotland Street School museum consists mainly of sculptures, with the addition of prints, drawings and video. In truth, it was created by 12 artists signed under a mystical signature of RR. 

The fiction of Raoul Reynolds takes aim at academic art historical conventions, and the concept of the retrospective itself. More specifically, there are themes of staging, theatricality, ornament, mythology and imitation, embodying different styles and approaches (outsider art, furniture design, naïve drawings).

On a stage built in the corner, we're confronted with a selection of props. Alluding to circus aesthetics, three bold sculptures take the form of geometric shapes (triangular, circular, rectangular), and decorated with a harlequin-print diamond pattern – steps on the non-patterned side might be for practical use in some kind of performance. Another composition consists of ready-made and found objects, as well as fur and shiny fabric, also placed on a pedestal and suggestive of props for performance.

Staging and theatricality’s associations with decorativeness are also explored in the work of Helen de Main and James McLardy. With the ubiquitous Mackintosh font on one side, an elegant folding screen is obviously reminiscent of the designs of Mackintosh – whom Reynolds apparently met in his early Glasgow days.

More house décor elements in Alys Owen’s sculpture. Resin leaves are suspended with chains in a wooden frame, feeling like a strange chandelier or a vast item of costume jewellery for the home. 

Though including fairly interesting individual touches on décor and performativity, Raoul Reynolds' exhibition's at times eccentric premise obscures what could be an interesting challenge to the idea of a retrospective.

Raoul Reynolds: A Retrospective, Scotland Street School Museum, run ended