France-Lise McGurn @ Tramway, Glasgow

Painter France-Lise McGurn has created an immersive and alluring installation in Tramway. While it's a show full of immediacy and technical skill, at moments its sense of context feels lacking

Article by Katie Dibb | 31 Jan 2020
  • France-Lise McGurn

The opening night of In Emotia had people sardined and queued up, cramming into every available cranny, mirroring the figures painted across the space. 

Luckily I found a quieter time to visit France-Lise McGurn’s installation of painted canvases, walls and newly incorporated neon stripping. The feet are so elegantly elongated and playfully characterful that they make a convincing case for foot fetishism.

There is something unfailingly satisfying in witnessing something executed with clear talent and skill. You can’t help but imagine the artist running around the space freely, perhaps a martini in hand, as charismatic as the figures she draws.

An effeminate celebration, the pastel pinks and nude confident bodies are atmospherically lit by the neons creating a perfectly Instagrammable hue. Inspired by living in and clubbing in Glasgow, McGurn manages to capture a disparate togetherness that succeeds in giving a contemporary feeling to figurative painting.

Despite McGurn’s work often being described as an exploration of intimacy and sexuality, the work feels conservative. The surrounding bodies are all slender and tall, with the physique and movement you might expect from the neighbouring dancers at Scottish Ballet. Crotches are given a doll-like smoothness other than the occasional slightest suggestion from a singular brush mark. There is a tangible sensuality in the work but it expresses a disappointingly vanilla sexuality.

Club culture emerged out of a predominately POC and Queer need for communal safe spaces. Despite the strong influence of clubbing, McGurn does not appear to touch upon this context and perhaps it is this missing acknowledgment that makes this very enjoyable exhibition feel limited in its success.

France-Lise McGurn: In Emotia, Tramway, until 29 Mar