2022 Arts Preview: The Year Ahead in Visual Art

Scotsman art critics Susan Mansfield and Duncan Macmillan highlight the must-see exhibitions of 2022

I Lay Here For You, by Tracey Emin PIC: Alan Pollock Morris / Jupiter Artland
I Lay Here For You, by Tracey Emin PIC: Alan Pollock Morris / Jupiter Artland

RSA New Contemporaries 2022, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 26 February until 3 April 2022 Leaving art school and beginning to make your way as an artist has always been hard, but rarely can it have been as difficult as in the past two years, with degree shows forced to happen online and opportunities even more limited than usual. The RSA New Contemporaries show, which brings together a selection of the best work by new graduates from all five Scottish art schools, didn’t happen in 2021, but the selection was made, and those artists now have their moment. The 57 artists, working in painting, sculpture, film-making, photography, printmaking, installation, performance and architecture, will have the chance to make new work for the show which will be, for many, their first opportunity to present their work to the (non-virtual) public. Artists with degree shows in 2021 have also been selected for the next show – look out for more details on this later in the year. SM

Reopening of the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, March 2022 In 1944, Sir William and Lady Constance Burrell gifted their collection of more than 9,000 art objects to the city of Glasgow. The collection’s purpose-built home in Pollok Country Park, the result of an architectural competition, opened its doors in 1983, an early indication of the cultural transformation the city was about to undergo. Now, after a £68.25million refurbishment and nearly six years of closure, the Burrell is set to reopen in March with improved facilities and 35 per cent more exhibition space, meaning we’ll be able to see far more of Burrell’s collection, which is as diverse as it is extensive. In the areas where it is particularly strong – medieval and renaissance art, tapestries, carpets, and stained-glass – it is on a par with some of the best museums in the world. Oh, and look out for 5,000 years of Chinese art, and one of the finest collections of work by Degas in Europe. SM

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, 25 March until 25 September 2022 is a double anniversary. It is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, but it is also the bicentenary of George IV’s visit to Edinburgh. The first visit by a reigning monarch for nearly two centuries, it was a grand, tartan pageant organised by Sir Walter Scott. The Royal Collection Trust has devised a really stunning show jointly to celebrate these two events. Thirty-three masterpieces from the unparalleled riches of the Royal Collection are being sent to the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood. George IV was a great collector and 24 of the pictures were bought by him, including Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait from 1642, two other Rembrandt portraits and Van Dyck’s wonderful double portrait of Thomas Killigrew and William, Lord Crofts. The selection will also include a superb Rubens landscape and an equally lovely Claude, A view of the Campagna from Tivoli, not seen in Scotland before. Pieter de Hooch’s Courtyard in Delft is Dutch painting at its very best, but a star will undoubtedly be Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait with an Allegory of Painting. DM

The newly renovated Burrell Collection PIC: CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections

Alberta Whittle, Arsenale Docks, S. Pietro di Castello, Venice Biennale, 23 April until 26 November After a gap of three years due to the pandemic, the Venice Biennale is set to go ahead this summer, with Alberta Whittle commissioned to represent Scotland. Time and again, Whittle has proved her ability to put her finger on the pulse of society and make a piece of work which speaks to the moment in a way which is both unflinching and deeply human. As the pandemic took hold, she was one of the few artists to tackle the situation head-on, making a film for Glasgow International which referenced the race-based inequalities which were just emerging. Her work RESET, which won the Frieze Award and was shown at Jupiter Artland last year, caught the moment again with themes of friendship, healing and empowerment. While details of the Venice work are still under wraps at time of writing, she is sure to have something to say on this major international platform. SM

Douglas Gordon, k.364, Dundee Contemporary Arts, 7 May until 31 July Delayed for nearly two years by the pandemic, the long-awaited premiere of Douglas Gordon’s k.364 is set to go ahead this spring. A multi-screen installation occupying the whole of DCA’s Gallery 2, the film follows two Israeli musicians of Polish descent, Avri Levitan and Roi Shiloah, as they travel from Berlin to Warsaw by train, culminating with a performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major (also known as k.364) at the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall. Gordon is a master of encapsulation, but this is a complex work about unresolved histories and the sustaining power of music, staged against a difficult contemporary context of Europe post Brexit and the rise of the right. Gallery 1 houses partially burned pages from the musicians’ scores for the Concertante, resonating with themes of fragility and resilence. It might just strike a chord (no pun intended) even more profoundly in the post-covid world. SM

Tracey Emin: I Lay Here For You, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Spring 2022 (dates TBC) In the last two decades, Tracey Emin has transformed from enfant terrible and creator of the world’s most famous unmade bed into CBE and Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy. This spring, Jupiter Artland will unveil I Lay Here For You, a naked female figure pressed and shaped in the artist’s hand as a clay figurine, then scaled up into a monumental bronze. Placed in woodland, it is described as “an intimate encounter with love, loss, grief and longing”, promising to do what Emin at her best does so well: taking the deeply personal and giving it universal resonance. The new sculpture will be accompanied by a solo exhibition taking over Jupiter’s various gallery spaces, much of it new work. Her first show in Scotland since 2008, it’s a long-awaited chance to catch up with her mature work. SM

Will Maclean, Points of Departure, Edinburgh City Art Centre, 4 June until 2 October The plan to mark Will Maclean’s 80th birthday with a major retrospective earlier this year, like almost everything else, had to be postponed. Now planned for spring 2022, it will celebrate his 81st birthday instead. He certainly deserves a celebration. His contribution to Scottish art has been unique. His Gaelic background shaped his ambition to find a way of making art that was a visual equivalent to the Gaelic poets and so, like them, to explore, to celebrate but also at times to lament the Highland experience. His work extends to the Highland diaspora but beyond that, too, to the lives of the explorers and the seamen who sailed the northern seas. The way he found to do this was principally through assemblage, bringing things together, creating and suggesting associations, but always, like a poet crafting words, working his materials so that the beauty of the object opens it to our imagination. This will be a full retrospective with major works from the whole of his long career. DM

Alberta Whittle

Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1 July to November Edinburgh was a major centre of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries, but anatomists needed bodies. So, enterprisingly, William Burke and William and Margaret Hare set out to provide them. They murdered 16 people they thought no one would miss and sold their bodies for dissection. Grave-robbing, too, became a common practice. These gruesome stories are at the centre of a major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland on the history of anatomical study which will examine such links between science and crime in the early 19th century. Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and other art works will raise the tone, however, and the exhibition will also examine the wider social and medical history surrounding the dissection of human bodies. It will then bring the story up to date highlighting the changing practices and attitudes around body provision since the Burke and Hare murders almost 200 years ago. DM

A Taste for Impressionism: Modern French Art from Millet to Matisse, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 13 July until 30 November The National Gallery has made quite a thing of Impressionist exhibitions, but this summer they are putting on one that promises to be different. There will be more than a hundred works in the show by artists including Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Gaugin and Van Gogh. In addition to these Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, there will also be work by forerunners of the movement like JF Millet and by some of those who followed afterwards like Matisse. The reference to “taste” in the exhibition’s title also reflects a special focus on works acquired early on by far-sighted Scottish dealers and collectors from artists who at the time were not well known. Later, the enormous popularity of Impressionism offered lucrative opportunity for forgers. As a challenge to the visitor, the show will include several fakes, unmarked to test visitors’ powers of discernment. DM

Mary Queen of Scots (working title), Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 14 October until 6 February 2023 Glamour, passion and the most brutal power-politics all met in the tragic life of Mary Queen of Scots. She died more than 400 years ago, but her story still fascinates and it has inspired artists in practically every art form from poetry and painting to opera and film. A major new exhibition at the Hunterian sets out to explore this phenomenon and her enduring presence in our collective memory. The objects in the exhibition will be witnesses both to the facts of Mary’s tragic history and to how her romantic image subsequently evolved. They will include paintings, engravings, printed books, archival material and also coins and medals, a field in which the Hunterian collection is uniquely rich. One rare medal celebrates Mary’s ill-fated marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, while her coinage was the first to bear a portrait of a female monarch. The likeness was so important that the master of the royal mint travelled to Paris to draw her. It was ironical that he should have taken such care. By the 18th century any vestige of the real person was entirely lost in the romantic myth. DM

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Installation view of k.364 by Douglas Gordon

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Sketches by Leonado da Vinci will be part of the Anatomy exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. PIC: Royal Collection Trust