2019: The Year Ahead in Art

Detail from Untitled no.4, 1998 by Paula Rego PIC: Copyright Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art
Detail from Untitled no.4, 1998 by Paula Rego PIC: Copyright Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art
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Optical illusions? Surrealist collages? Donegal carpets? You’ll find all these things and more in Scotland’s galleries in the year ahead, write Susan Mansfield and Duncan Macmillan

Ambi: Fiona Jardine, Hanneline Visnes, Rabiya Choudhry, Reid Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, 2 February until 14 April

Originally planned as the summer show for 2018, this exhibition, in which three artists respond to elements of Glasgow School of Art’s archives, was postponed after the fire in the Mackintosh Building. Now, as the Reid Gallery reopens to the public, it promises to be a show rich in history, colour and craft. Choudhry looks at Paisley pattern (“ambi” is the Punjabi word for the same pattern); Jardine looks at Donegal Carpets (which she discovered while working in Singapore), while Visnes explores the costume designs of Dorothy Carleton Smyth, who was set to become the first female director of GSA in 1933, though she died before she was able to take up the post. SM

Edinburgh Printmakers, Castle Mills, Fountainbridge, opening spring

With Collective newly launched in the Royal Observatory, and the Fruitmarket due to close in May to refurbish and extend, it’s all change at Edinburgh’s galleries. 2019’s big opening is Castle Mills, the new home of Edinburgh Printmakers, transforming a former rubber factory – after six years and £11 million – into galleries, a cafe and shop and the largest print workshop created for artists in Europe. The first artist to show in the building, Germany’s Thomas Kilpper, is interested in hidden histories and plans to work with the building’s past, as well as elements of the building itself, to make new site-specific work in a show called The Politics of Heritage vs the Heritage of Politics. SM

Victoria Crowe, City Art Centre, Edinburgh, 18 May until 13 October

From A Shepherd’s Life at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery nearly 20 years ago, through exhibitions at the Scottish Gallery and elsewhere, as well as the major show of her portraits this year, Victoria Crowe has established herself as one of the outstanding painters working in Scotland today. Nevertheless, there has never been a retrospective of her work to give us a complete picture of her achievement. That will be put right with a major exhibition at Edinburgh City Art Centre beginning in May. DM

Venice Biennale, Various venues, Venice, 11 May until 24 November

Fresh from winning the Turner Prize, Charlotte Prodger, this year’s commissioned artist for Scotland + Venice, will make new work for the Arsenale Docks, a former industrial space dating from the 1930s, close to both main Biennale sites. Praised for the way her work is both personal and political, Prodger is likely to produce something fresh and interesting at the heart of the contemporary art world’s biggest jamboree. Meanwhile, Glasgow-based Cathy Wilkes, in the British pavilion, is another artist who combines the personal and domestic with much bigger issues in her sculptural installations. The Biennale promises plenty of strong women artists, including Eva Rothschild for Ireland and 2013 Turner Prizewinner Laure Prouvost representing France. SM

Martin Boyce, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, 25 May until 3 November

The contemporary visual art programme at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute goes from strength to strength, extending this year to open in March with a show by Whitney McVeigh drawing on aspects of the family archive. The highlight, however, is a major new outdoor commission by Martin Boyce, inspired by a former tennis court in the grounds. Dismantled since the 1970s, the court exists somewhere between history and myth, a potent symbol with echoes of Boyce’s seminal installation at Tramway in 2002, Our Love is like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea and the Hours, which proved to be a jumping off point for much of his work since. SM

Bridget Riley, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 15 June until 22 September

Bridget Riley is the old mistress of Op Art, or that is what it was called way back in the 1960s when she began to dazzle us with her intricate eye-bending paintings. She has stuck to it, too, and in doing so has proved that it is possible to go on being startlingly inventive within what might seem a limited pictorial range. She will be the subject of the National Gallery’s summer show in what will be the first substantial survey of her work to be held in the UK for 16 years, and the first to be staged in Scotland. DM

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 26 June until 10 November

Bonnie Prince Charlie at the National Museum of Scotland was a big success. It is not exactly billed as such, but 2019’s major historical show, Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland, follows on rather neatly. It will explore the Romantic vision of Scotland that from Ossian and the Jacobites’ lost cause to Sir Walter Scott and beyond became such an important part of the imagery of the European Romantic movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was because of the Romantic Movement, too, that with a remarkable reversal of fortune, it was the poor, oppressed Highlands that were to provide Scotland with her visual identity. DM

Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 29 June until 27 October

More than any other way of working, collage – launched by Braque and Picasso around 1911 and then used with great effect by the Surrealists – became the defining art form of Modernism. However, there has apparently never been a major exhibition devoted to it. To put that right, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will be showing Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage, billed as “the first survey exhibition of collage ever to take place anywhere in the world.” As the title indicates, the exhibition will take a long view of its subject; I have no doubt though that it will be the collaged masterpieces of the great Modernists that will steal the show. DM

Leonardo: A Life in Drawing, Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, 22 November until 15 March 2020

2019 is the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and Leonardo: A Life in Drawing at the Queen’s Gallery will mark this quincentenary. Drawing was a constant in Leonardo’s life and art. He drew as he thought and every aspect of this astonishing visual activity is represented in the Royal Collection which could hold an exhibition with a drawing for each of those 500 years and still have some left over. No other collection could mark this anniversary with a show drawn entirely from its own reserves, but that is exactly what this exhibition will do. DM

Paula Rego, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 23 November until April 2020

In the autumn, the National Galleries will host an ambitious retrospective by the Portugese artist Paula Rego, put together in partnership with MK Gallery (Milton Keynes) and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The show promises to draw out the political aspects of Rego’s practice, taking in work from the 1950s (when she was newly graduated from the Slade) right up until 2012, and showing how her painting shifted from a semi-abstract style to the unsettling figurative work for which we know her today. It’s a chance to see her exploring themes such as Portugal’s 48-year right-wing dictatorship, and the country’s battle to legalise abortion in the 1990s. SM