Art reviews: Marian Leven & Donald Provan, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh

Based in Tayport and a graduate of Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Marian Leven could perhaps be described as an east coast artist, but the paintings on show at the Open Eye were inspired by an area of coast in the north-west of Scotland. She has made a beautiful exhibition out of the analogy between watercolour – the way it moves and its transparency – and actual water, of light on water, of the waves and the tide over the shore, but also of the atmosphere where water is suspended as vapour in the air.

Detail from Freezing Over by Donald Provan, at the Open Eye Gallery
Detail from Freezing Over by Donald Provan, at the Open Eye Gallery

Art reviews: Marian Leven: Coastal Responses, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh ****

Donald Provan: Snowbound, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh ****

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Sometimes she explores some or all of these in a single picture by dividing the canvas. At other times a whole canvas is a file of aqueous light. Turner was the pioneer who recognised the sympathy between water and watercolour, but Marian Leven has her own way of working. She explores these qualities working with watercolour on canvas or board, not on paper as would be usual. A hard surface, the water naturally flows over it and is not absorbed. Thus she invokes the sea and the movement of the waves, but also the way atmosphere modifies how we see this and how it can dissolve the solid land at the sea’s edge to create what she describes and indeed titles, Coastal Enigmas. It is a beautiful and luminous group of works.

Donald Provan is also showing at the Open Eye. His brilliant paintings of silvery fish are familiar, but he is now also showing austere winter landscapes with bare hills and trees, often seen through falling snow. Both on a smaller scale with mixed media on paper and on a large scale in oil on panel, they are very striking indeed. - Duncan Macmillan

Both until 1 April