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At the City Art Centre this winter there will be a group exhibition featuring work by nine contemporary artists based in Scotland – Sara Brennan, Michael Craik, Eric Cruikshank, Kenneth Dingwall, Callum Innes, Alan Johnston, James Lumsden, Karlyn Sutherland and Andrea Walsh.

Beneath the Surface features the artists displaying a minimalist and abstract approach to their work, which ranges from drawings, paintings and constructions to ceramics, glass and tapestry. 

All of their artworks have an economy of gesture in common – a limited tonal palette or a monochrome colour plane. 

Callum Innes, ‘Exposed Painting, Charcoal Black – Red Oxide’, 2000. © the artist

The surface of any artwork is often the most readily accessible component. However, what lies behind or beneath the surface often deserves a closer look. With most of the artworks in the exhibition, the process of making is not hidden.

Making constitutes the very subject of some of them, as is the case with the works by Callum Innes, Michael Craik and James Lumsden. The layering and reduction of materials are processes that feature repeatedly in their work, used to create effects of translucency or depth, as well as to portray the passage of time. Whereas for Kenneth Dingwall the thought and reaction produced in the act of making seeks a form that carries analogies to aspects of human nature and emotion. 

For artists Sara Brennan and Eric Cruikshank, their inspiration derives from something more tangible such as nature or landscape. They use these elements as starting points, but without the intention of creating literal representations. While artists Alan Johnston, Karlyn Sutherland and Andrea Walsh are concerned with the interaction of light and shadow on surfaces and the definition of space or memory of a place. 

Andrea Walsh, ‘Collection of Contained Boxes – White, Warm White and Clear’, 2018. © the artist. Photography by Shannon Tofts

Beneath the Surface is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with an insightful essay on the history of Scottish abstract art by Kenneth Dingwall. The exhibition continues this narrative by showcasing a group of contemporary artists currently working in Scotland in the field of minimal abstraction.

Curator Maeve Toal said: “Artworks with such apparent simplicity sometimes attract the false perception that they require little intervention on the artist’s behalf. However, what may appear simple to the viewer, often involves restraint and extended periods of time spent by the artist contemplating, reworking and refining complex ideas and processes. I hope this exhibition will encourage visitors to take their time viewing these subtle yet intense artworks, to use their imagination, and look beyond what seems immediately obvious.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Convener of Culture and Communities said: “We are delighted to present Beneath the Surface in our City Art Centre this winter. The exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to see the works of nine contemporary artists and how differently this theme has been explored through diverse mediums. I’m sure it is going to be captivating, and there is a fantastic range of inspired events planned to coincide with the exhibition, allowing visitors to try their hand at the techniques they’ve seen or join discussions with the artists themselves.”

Beneath the Surface

Sara Brennan | Michael Craik | Eric Cruikshank | Kenneth Dingwall | Callum Innes | Alan Johnston | James Lumsden | Karlyn Sutherland | Andrea Walsh

16 November 2019 to 1 March 2020, 

City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE

Admission Free