New Year News: Scottish Exhibition Highlights 2015

It's all set to be a happy New Year in Scottish art, with exhibitions of works by major international and Scottish artists, as well as emerging artists

Feature by Adam Benmakhlouf | 05 Jan 2015

There’s always more art than time. So, in the name of that basic demand of every New Year’s resolution: let’s plan ahead.

In Dundee Contemporary Arts, three large exhibitions are planned between February and September. In the first instance, next month will see the work of Florian and Michael Quistrebert exhibited in DCA. These brothers are based across Paris and Amsterdam, and were recently nominated for the French equivalent of the Turner prize: the Prix Marcel Duchamp. Known primarily for their optically complicated, often tessellating work, their exhibition Visions of Void (Sat 7 Feb-Sun 22 Mar) promises “an atmospheric chamber of flickering fire, shadowy space and gleaming canvases." 

The work of iconic Polaroid photographer Maripol is also coming to DCA from Sat 4 Apr-Sun 21 Jun, as well as responses to the work by younger artists Claire Stephenson and Zoe Williams. Later in the year, from 4 Jul- 20 Sep, there will be a new presentation of work by major Swiss artist Roman Signer, whose playful installations and videos draw comparisons with Peter Fischli and David Weiss. 

Staying in Dundee, Generator, now hitting 18 years old, are celebrating with the opening of their new members' space in the new year. Amongst their programme of exhibitions, there is now an annual fixture on the Generator calendar: TH4Y.  For those who struggle with the sheer scale of degree shows, this May exhibition (full title: They Had 4 Years) presents the committee’s selection of recent graduates from three of Scotland’s art schools. 

Across Scotland next year, there will also be the Artist Rooms initiative, which seeks to make more accessible the biggest names in contemporary art of the previous decades. Throughout the year, there will be work on show from Robert Mapplethorpe, Joseph Beuys, Diane Arbus, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and Don McCullin. Most importantly, these exhibitions will take place the length and breadth of the country, all the way to Shetland and back to Edinburgh. For details of the UK wide series of events, visit

Artist Rooms is partly administered by the National Galleries, whose three sites in Edinburgh will host a diverse range of exhibitions throughout 2015. We've already mentioned the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition which will take place in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Modern One across three rooms from 14 Mar-10 Jan 2016. In Modern Two, after what will likely be a strange retrospective of the work of MC Escher (27 Jun-27 Sep) there will be what the National Galleries tout as a 'revelatory exhibition of work by Scottish women artists,' which will contain over 70 works from the National Galleries collection, as well as other public and private collections.

From the celebrities of the 20th century, it’s back to the latest emerging artists with Embassy’s programme for the months ahead. See this month’s events column for details of their show opening on 23 Jan. Into February, Self-Storage will open on the 13th with work from four artists that enquires into the 'quantified self' as calculated by profiling on social media sites and 'self-tracking.' Embassy will then present Driving this Road Until Death Sets You Free, whose theme will be the notion of possible futures as variously presented in utopian and dystopian sci-fi. In June, there will be Embassy’s 12th Annuale which is structured around an open call for proposals and emphasises grassroots artistic activity within Edinburgh and beyond.

Staying in Edinburgh, Stills continues its exciting programme of exhibitions with four main presentations. As their first exhibition opening in 2015, from 7 Feb-5 Apr, Leap in Time will showcase the work of two German photographers, Erich Salomon (1886-1944) and Barbara Klemm (born 1939). Within both of these artists’ works feature many important figures and places of the 20th and 21st centuries. For April into July, Stills have planned an exhibition that provides the rare opportunity to see some works from Anna Atkins and Margaret Watkins, two innovative, significant female photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Then for August into October Stills has co-commissioned – along with London gallery a/political – new photomontage and installation work by kennardphilips to be shown within the Edinburgh gallery. Rounding off a promising 2015 schedule, for the first time Stills will provide the venue for the Jill Todd Photography Award.

Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh has also structured the coming year around a small number of strong exhibitions, focusing on three tightly curated presentations. Beginning in March and curated by Paulo Venancio Filho, there is Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art. With most of the details of the show seeming to be contained in the title, it may suffice to clarify the works span from the 1960s in order to put to inspection the international impact of Brazilian Art within recent decades. As well as oft-referenced artists like Hélio Oiticica, lesser-known contemporaries and younger generations will also be included. 

Later in the year, Fruitmarket have scheduled two further exhibitions. Coinciding with the Edinburgh Art Festival, influential artist and educator Phyllida Barlow will bring her materially-focused and immersive sculptural installations to the Fruitmarket – from 12 Ju-18 Oct. Taking the gallery into 2016 is Another Minimalism: Art After California Light and Space, curated by Seattle-based Melissa E. Feldman. 

Coming to Glasgow, Mary Mary are looking forward to presenting the work of Lorna Macintyre from 21 Feb-4 Apr. Following her solo show in Mount Stuart as part of GENERATION during summer 2014, Macintyre will present in Mary Mary a large group of photographic prints from her personal archive which spans more than 10 years. The exhibition is expected to be purely black and white, bringing together images which she has used in past works as well as negatives that will be printed for the first time for this exhibition. 

In Tramway, as well as the two exhibitions mentioned in this month’s What’s On column, in March Jessica Ramm will be in Tramway 5. Ramm is best known for her 'highly elaborated and laboriously constructed sculptural mechanisms'. In past works, for example, Ramm has pulled at a rock and documented this process with video that moves between only the rock with the rope tied around it and her feet making deeper and deeper impressions in the earth.

For the Modern Institute it’s another busy year at home and internationally. From the end of March (though the dates are still provisional) in the main space of the Modern Institute, Los Angeles based Liz Larner will show works from her primarily minimalist and geometrically formal sculpture practice. Around the same time, Miami-based sculptor Mark Handforth (primarily known for large-scale site-specific work) will be exhibiting in Aird’s Lane. 

A key highlight in the upcoming Modern Institute exhibitions comes in June with the Urs Fischer show. Fischer’s oeuvre is diverse, across installations, sculpture and gestural paintings. He is best known for his experimental approach to ephemeral materials and quoting in sculpture and large scale installations genres more commonly associated with painting – the reclining nude and the still life, for example. 

It was quite an ask to request galleries at the start of December 2014 to outline the exact dates and content of exhibitions that are still months away, so specific details may be subject to change