2017 Arts Preview - The Year Ahead in Visual Art

Detail from Landscape, 1949 by William Gear, part of the Scottish Avant-Garde Art 1900-1950 exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, opening in December 2017 C. The Artist's Estate
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The year ahead promises a Young Pretender, an Old Master, some modernists and a mummy – our art critics pick their highlights

Polygraph – Secondary Interpretations: truths, evidence and the authentic voice

Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow,

18 February until 3 September

If there’s one artist working in Europe who is best at grappling with the implications of the globalised, networked, post-truth world we live in, it is Berlin’s Hito Steyerl. Thanks to the Contemporary Art Society, Glasgow Museums have become the first public collection in the UK to acquire her work and her film Abstract (2012) will be shown for the first time as part of the exhibition Polygraph. Abstract is a two-channel video commemorating a childhood friend of Steyerl’s called Andrea Wolf, who became an activist and revolutionary and was eventually killed in the Kurdish region of Turkey in 1998 while fighting for the PKK. (MJ)

Maria Fusco: Radical Dialect

Common Guild, Glasgow,

18 January until January 2019

The art writer Maria Fusco, a Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art, is an endlessly inventive figure whose Master Rock, an Artangel commission for Radio 4, was a live performance written for the interior depths of a mountain at the Cruachan Hydro-electric power station in Argyll and heard by over two million people in 2015. Kicking off the tenth anniversary of Glasgow’s Common Guild, Fusco’s new two-year project Radical Dialect begins with a performance by the Canadian poet Lisa Robertson on 18 January. (MJ)

Franki Raffles

Glasgow School of Art,

4 March until 27 April

The growing resurgence in documentary photography has also meant a resurgence in interest in its unsung heroes. Franki Raffles, who died tragically at the age of 39, was a feminist photographer and campaigner whose pioneering work on Edinburgh’s Zero Tolerance campaign was tragically cut short. GSA’s Jenny Brownrigg, whose own research interest is in early 20th century women documentary photographers, places Raffle’s feminist project in focus and in a wider context. (MJ)

The Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Burial

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 31 March until 3 September

Mummies always fascinate, but the tombs that housed them and all the things that were packed into them to help the deceased on their way to the afterlife are every bit as interesting. The Tomb Ancient: Egyptian Burial will focus on a single, remarkable tomb in the ancient city of Thebes. The tomb was first built for the chief of police and his wife more than 3,000 years go, but was then reused at intervals over a millennium and into the Christian era. This pattern of reuse has left a legacy of objects from across a long period of history: amulets, furniture, statues and more. A feast for Egyptologists, no doubt, but these things are beautiful, the story they tell is fascinating and the show should prove just as much of a treat for the rest of us.

Duncan Macmillan (DM)

Beyond Caravaggio

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

17 June until 24 September

Caravaggio was the first modern artist. He threw over the traces, defied convention and tradition and created an art that really was dramatically new and it was immediate too. In the presence of his pictures you are right there, part of whatever dramatic story he is telling. Light was the key to what he did, but light against contrasting darkness. There had never been painting like it before and, like Picasso three centuries later, he changed the course of art. Beyond Caravaggio, which will be at the National Gallery from June, focuses on four major paintings by Caravaggio himself and then traces their impact on painters from all over Europe. It promises to be a big event. (DM)

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 23 June until 12 November

We never seem to tire of the romantic story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, but much of what is remembered is more fiction than fact. The National Museum of Scotland aims to put that right with a major show called Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. It will bring what are described as “spectacular objects” as loans from elsewhere in the UK and from France, for many years the Jacobites’ home, to add to the museum’s own holdings and tell the true story of Scotland’s greatest lost cause. (DM)

Stephen Sutcliffe

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh,

28 July until 30 September

It’s a busy year for the Talbot Rice, a partner in Rachel Maclean’s presentation at the Venice Biennale. On the home front there is a welcome solo show for Glasgow’s Stephen Sutcliffe who won last year’s Contemporary Art Society Prize, and in 2017 will unveil a work about the late novelist Anthony Burgess at the Whitworth Manchester. In Edinburgh, Sutcliffe will show a new film based on his research into the radical British filmmaker Lindsay Anderson and his relationships with the actor Richard Harris and the working class novelist David Storey, offering a personal and poignant account of British Culture. (MJ)

True to Life: British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 30s

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 1 July until 29 October

Abstract art was the big story of modernism. It certainly made an impact on British art, but it was not a pushover. Many British artists took a very different approach, not because they were conservative, but because they wanted to engage more directly with modern life as it was lived. As a group, these artists have tended to be overlooked, neglected even, and dismissed as a backwater to the great modernist stream, even though they include such famous names as Stanley Spencer. The National Gallery has set out to put the record straight in a show called True to Life: British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 30s which brings together the work of 50 artists in this forgotten tradition. (DM)

Jacqueline Donachie

Fruitmarket, Edinburgh,

1 November until 11 February 2018

Jacqueline Donachie is the first recipient of the inaugural Freelands Prize, an award that will support new work for her solo show at the Fruitmarket. Over the years the Glasgow-trained artist has made work with hospital staff and patients, members of a judo club for the visually impaired, dancers from topless bars around Edinburgh,

users of public transport and members of a gospel choir. But increasingly her work in sculpture, film and participation has used her strategic skills as an artist to explore medicine and genetics, drawing on her own extended family’s challenging experience of the hereditary condition myotonic dystrophy. (MJ)

Scottish Avant-Garde Art 1900-1950

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 2 December-29 April 2018

For some years now the National Gallery has mounted a major

Scottish show at the end of the year. This will continue in 2017 with an exhibition devoted to Scottish Avant-Garde Art 1900-1950. In these years, from Arthur Melville and the Colourists to William Gear and Eduardo Paolozzi, many Scottish artists really were avant-garde, indeed, as far as Britian was concerned, they were the avant-garde. Throughout the period and for whatever reason, among British artists it seems to have been Scots who were closest in touch with the great artistic events on the Continent. Their work in consequence can be beautiful, is always interesting and is often radical. This will be an illuminating show. (DM) ■

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