2007 - 2020

Kandinsky in Govan

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a Russian painter, printmaker and art theorist, so what’s he doing in Govan?

Alastair McIntosh, the organiser of the three day festival celebrating ‘art, spirituality and the future’ explains the need to explore “art as service”:

“With keynote speakers including leading art experts and the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, we will be exploring how art can speak in places of poverty today. The conference will challenge the narcissistic nihilism of contemporary art forms that have turned their backs on beauty and, perhaps arguably, lost sight of art’s deepest function.”

I’m not sure of the basis of the cultural critique McIntosh is putting forward here. Is it against art as commodity? Art reflecting reality? Art that isn’t beautiful?. It’s not entirely clear, but the event programme sounds amazing. Highlights will include an exhibition and talk on Douglas Strang’s Liminal – first displayed at Dark Mountain 2011, Norman Bissell and Helen Kyle on Geopoetics, and a tour of the GalGael Workshops with Tam McGarvey.

McIntosh argues: “Kandinsky never had anything to do with Govan. But people here will typically say of art: “We don’t want more ugliness. We see enough of self-harming on the streets. We want art that’s about beauty and which uplifts the human spirit.” The name, Govan, means “The Place of the Smith” and there is a fire in Govan that burns off pretentiousness. The pretentiousness of artists who make a fetish of misery; who lack connection to love and beauty and try to make a virtue of wallowing in vacuity instead.”

To book your place and for full programme details go here (PDF).

Comments (4)

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  1. Hapalba says:

    Would love to see more art used in our streets and communities to brighten the place up and uplift the human spirit. On a recent visit to Barcelona I was struck by the immense wealth of beauty and art everywhere from the past and the present. It is given huge priority and I would love to see that here.

  2. Dear Bella … thanks so much for having (unsolicited) posting this. You make a good point about being not sure of the critique that I am positing. During the year+ I have been planning this conference I have been challenged many times on my views on art. I have never claimed to be an art expert. I have a science backgroud. What I do see clearly in a place like Govan is when art is failing those who are most hard pressed in our society. And having posed your question that rightly pinpoints the unfocussed nature of my own critique, you are then kind enough to quote me saying precisely what I see the problem as being, so it is not entirely unfocussed. For me a turning point was a couple of years ago when I visited the student exhibition in one of our major Scottish art schools. Much of it was nihilistic wallow with no beauty. What shocked me was that when I challened a number of the students, they said, some of them ruefully, that in art school they are not encouraged to work with beauty. They are pushed towards the conceptual. Same a year ago when I lectured to 300 fine art and design students. A lot came up afterwards making the same complaint. Of course, when you give a guest lecture it is generally those who agree with you who come up, so I saw a biased sample. But this is what I want to see explored in the conference this w/end (Saturday is the main day of it). We have a wide variety of speaker perspectives and 4 exhibitions that range from abstracty stuff to very concrete natural-materials beauty. People can look, and listen, and blether, and develop their own ideas. My role will mainly be to hold the space … and I am most grateful to you, dear and beautiful Bella, for this bit of promotion that will help to make it a success, I hope.

  3. Castle Rock says:

    “…and I am most grateful to you, dear and beautiful Bella…”

    What a lovely thing to say.

    Hope the conference is a great success.

  4. Silver Ghost says:

    I grew up in Renfrew in the early sixties. I was adventurous, going here and there on the bus on a Saturday, just to do something by myself and do something different… I went to the Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery. I remember the unremarkable ‘Carcass of an Ox’ by Rembrandt. I wondered then, and still do, WTF is that about? Why is Rembrandt so great? Nevertheless, I saw so much else, so many things that I have remembered again and again and understood so much better in hindsight. I also understand that Rembrandt is great. So, you never know what eyes art will appear in, or what the outcome will be. Kandinsky in Govan is great. You never know, nor can you ever calculate what draws people to art, or what they may yield from exposure to it in time. Art is service, just don’t try to explain that on a spreadsheet.

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