Above & Beyond: Martin Boyce at Fruitmarket

Fruitmarket celebrates its 50th birthday this year – their first major show is a solo presentation by Martin Boyce, with his first exhibition in the gallery since 1999

Article by Harvey Dimond | 27 Feb 2024

Before Behind Between Above Below features works by Martin Boyce from as early as 1992 to the present day. Boyce was born in Glasgow and continues to work in the city, creating sculptural installations that reference our built environments, transforming, reimagining and reworking them into poetic landscapes. This exhibition will be one of his most ambitious and extensive exhibitions to date – a brilliant chance to see works that are rarely exhibited in Scotland or beyond, from across Boyce’s illustrious career. 

Between 1999 and 2003, Fruitmarket initiated Visions for the Future, a project which commissioned substantial new bodies of work by a new generation of Scottish artists. When Now Is Night, the first exhibition of the five-year-long project (taking place in 1999) featured sculptural works by Boyce in the gallery’s downstairs space, alongside works by Ross Sinclair in the upper gallery space. Boyce’s contribution included sculptures, photographs and room-sized installations that made reference to civic and domestic spaces and objects. 

Boyce has been working and living in Glasgow continuously since then, while also, since 2018, being a Professor of Sculpture at HFBK Hamburg. He represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale back in 2009, curated by Dundee Contemporary Arts as part of the Scotland + Venice partnership. The commission was particularly ambitious and took place across seven interconnected rooms in a grand 16th-century Venetian palazzo. Boyce imagined and brought to life an abandoned garden in the palazzo’s faded grandeur, with suspended aluminium trees, wax paper leaves, raised stepping stones and man-made constructions such as bird boxes, tables and benches. 

Before Behind Between Above Below will flow and run throughout all of Fruitmarket’s spaces and its ground floor Warehouse space, with the artist creating a distinct atmosphere in each one. One installation, exhibited downstairs, will work with the existing architecture of Fruitmarket to create a structure that displays a series of wall-based works, originating from various periods in Boyce’s practice – from early graphic and text works to more recent painterly compositions. The artist will also make reference to Jan and Joël Martel’s concrete Cubist ‘trees’ from 1925, through a presentation of series of models and materials. Boyce’s interest in these trees has remained constant throughout his career, although materials relating to his ongoing interest have never been exhibited before as widely as they will be for this exhibition. 

In the Warehouse space, a constellation of sculptures will be displayed, set up as though recently returned or in preparation to be put on display. Those familiar with Boyce’s practice will recognise many of the works shown here, although they have been curated to present them in new and unfamiliar ways. Here, Boyce experiments with ideas around archiving and storage, and allows the audience a window into the art making process that is not usually rendered visible or tangible. 

In Fruitmarket’s Upper Gallery, several recent works will fill the space in an atmospheric and revelatory configuration. This includes Future Blossom (For Yokeno Residence), a very recent work, alongside the Ventillation Grills series, with the works combining to create a space that references psychological and physical exteriors and interiors. 

Martin Boyce: Before Behind Between Above Below, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, 2 Mar-9 Jun