Ballet of the Palette @ GoMA

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 01 Mar 2015

Artists from last year’s Picture Show have put together an exhibition of paintings selected from the Glasgow collections. It’s a clever crossing of the kind of historical painting shows that might be expected in the Burrell Collection but involving the painters working and living in Glasgow now.

But this is accessible work. “I did one like that,” lies a small child as she looks at the Paddy Japaljarri Sims. It's the largest painting in the show, going almost floor to ceiling, and its whirling dots are abstract and refer in their texture and design to Aboriginal woven fabrics. However, there’s a more honest and interesting line of influence between Japaljarri’s work and Hannaline Visnes who selected the work and whose work in the previous Picture Show hung in the same spot. 

Accompanying the works on the wall is a video that explains the restoration work that came before the show. It also acts as a workaround to feature a painting that was chosen by Carol Rhodes, though not in an appropriate condition to feature in the show, Gorbals Tower (1919) by an unknown artist. The dirt that has accidentally got mixed in with the varnish which has become discoloured, and its canvas which has warped and bulged over time, suggests it was the work of a skilled amateur without the proper materials. Its neat incorporation avoids the potential indirect classism that could rule out older works by non-professionals, that have been varnished or stretched incorrectly.

This show is almost the opposite of the Raoul De Keyser Show at Inverleith House now. Showing the practice of an older painter, Inverleith showcase his oeuvre which is remarkably similar to the kind of painting that is fashionable now – two or so colours, painterly application of paint, abstraction tidily arranged, but still foppishly sloppy. In Ballet of the Palette, there’s a digging into the Glasgow collections and an unabashed celebration of painting that – as Hanneline Visnes describes Birds and Tree (1969) by William Crosbie - “really looks of its time.”

GOMA, until 24 Jun, free