Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Lineage: Prints by Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport and Julian Opie
Lineage: Prints by Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport and Julian Opie
Published on Friday, 19 August 2011

2 stars

Edinburgh Printmakers (venue website)
4-31 Aug, 1-3 Sep, 10:00am-6:00pm
Reviewed by Madeleine Mason

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

For a show that places emphasis on its featured artists’ explorations of the use of line, Lineage at Edinburgh Printmakers offers little in terms of a new or exciting way to view this most basic of artistic devices. In fact, as the humble line has played a prominent role in many a great artwork over the years, it felt to me that using it as the central concept of an exhibition was akin to one of those infamous attempts to re-invent the wheel.

The empty title could be forgiven, but sadly the prints themselves are pretty empty, too – no matter how technically well-executed they may be. The vacuous pop culture imagery of Michael Craig-Martin and Julian Opie could well be carried by a trendy London gallery, in which the superficiality of the work is counterbalanced by its price tag.  But in the genuinely creative environment of a working studio such as Edinburgh Printmakers, such banality seems wildly out of place.

It doesn’t help, of course, that the gallery itself is tiny: the space is suited to showing intricately detailed work that calls for a lengthy and intimate viewing experience. With only fifteen or so prints on display and no profound content to hold the viewer’s attention, all that is needed to get a feel for the show is a cursory glance around the room. The exhibition may be free, but I think most visitors would expect something a little more engaging.

Ian Davenport’s series of Etched Puddle monoprints was the highlight for me, simply because the images made me think. The works are very similar to that of the 1960’s Colour Field painter Morris Louis (Google ‘Morris Louis veils’ and you’ll see what I mean), so my background in art history allowed me to draw this comparison and ponder its relevance. Similarly with Craig-Martin’s piece, Deconstructing Piero, I was able to picture the original Piero della Francesca painting on which it was based – the mid-fifteenth century Flagellation of Christ – and come to the conclusion that perhaps the significance of Craig-Martin’s double print, which sees the famous painting’s figures removed from their background, could lie in some kind of comment on the importance of the Renaissance development of linear perspective.

So my visit was slightly redeemed. But for the many viewers to whom such historical references might not be so apparent, I wonder if these images offer anything more stimulating than just bright colours and a bit of fun.

<< Seymour Mace: Happypotamu...   What It Feels Like >>