Jac Leirner @ Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

In her newest exhibition at The Fruitmarket, Jac Leirner shows the beauty of obsession

Review by Figgy Guyver | 08 Sep 2017

120 lengths of cord have been mounted on the wall of Fruitmarket. There’s a pink piece woven with cobalt blue, a thicker black length, a nondescript beige, a zingy lime green with black speckles. The more you look, the more details emerge. 120 Cords (2014) is created by an artist with an eye for the peculiar within the everyday.

The exhibit is part of Add it Up, Brazilian artist Jac Leirner’s latest show at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery. The exhibition marks Leirner’s first solo show in Scotland, although she is returning to the gallery, having exhibited works as part of Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art back in 2015.

Throughout the exhibition, order, repetition and obsession pervade. A series of technical colour studies, for instance, meticulously document the interactions between hues, saturations and values. They recall Paul Klee and Josef Albers’ abstractions and similarly use grids to create rhythmic studies.

Elsewhere, these same themes are addressed via the objects themselves: in The End, Skin (1992) and Pulmao (1987) the paraphernalia of an addicted smoker takes centre-stage. Leirner preserves roaches, Rizla papers, butts and cellophane wrappers. Skin is particularly memorable. Here, Leirner sticks Rizla papers in a grid formation. The delicate white papers bristle as you pass, and in the accompanying video, Leirner describes the piece as ‘if the wall had skin’.

Leirner is at her best when between her minimalist roots and something more personal. Her recent work The Reinforcer (2016), straddles this masterfully. The exhibit, constructed of brown, pale mint and grey scraps of Rizla packets has a patient command of colour reminiscent of minimalist painter Agnes Martin.The piece is, however, invested with an intimate twist: the scraps were collected over many years and so each is tied to a place, a time and a memory.

Jac Leirner, Add it Up at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh until 22 Oct http://theskinny.co.uk/art