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Tacita Dean and Jenny Saville lead strong female presence at Edinburgh art festival

Focus on portraiture … Ronald Stevenson (1983) by Victoria Crowe.

Focus on portraiture … Ronald Stevenson (1983) by Victoria Crowe. Photograph: RS Anderson/Victoria Crowe

Tacita Dean and Jenny Saville lead strong female presence at Edinburgh art festival

Phyllida Barlow, Lucy Skaer and Victoria Crowe also feature in the lineup alongside old masters including Canaletto and Rembrandt

Dale Berning Sawa
Mon 26 Mar 2018 00.01 BST

The Edinburgh art festival has announced its 2018 programme. The annual event, which this year takes place between 26 July and 26 August alongside the international festival and the fringe, will mark its 15th anniversary with 36 exhibitions at venues across the city.

This year’s lineup, echoing the festival’s sprawling nature, is bold and expansive. It is also confirms that 2018 belongs to Tacita Dean, with a major performance focused solo show at Fruitmarket Gallery following hot on the heels of her tripartite museum coup in London.

Jenny Saville’s Rosetta II (2006).
Jenny Saville’s Rosetta II (2006). Photograph: Jenny Saville/Gagosian

In a further examination of the body and performance, Jenny Saville is at the heart of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s state-of-the-nation-style show, NOW (part 3).

At Jupiter Artland, Phyllida Barlow will present a new commission, the composite sculptural work Quarry, in the sculpture park’s woodland. Scottish artist Lucy Skaer, meanwhile, will take centre stage at the Talbot Rice Gallery with The Green Man, a show involving guest artists, new work and a miscellany of objects she has skimmed from the University of Edinburgh’s collection.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish Gallery have both homed in on the Scottish painter Victoria Crowe, with particular emphasis placed on her portraiture and landscapes. Ingleby gallery will present works by, among others, Alicja Kwade, Cornelia Parker and Katie Paterson in Jacob’s Ladder, an exploration of humanity’s relationship to space.

The preponderance of women artists in this year’s programme was not a deliberate strategy on the part of the festival’s organisers. “It just happened that there’s a strong female presence,” says festival director Sorcha Carey. The interesting thing about the festival’s model, she says, is that it doesn’t have a central curatorial figure. Instead it is a partnership of all the spaces you can see art in – the galleries, not-for-profit venues, artist-run spaces, museums and art centres – across the city. Which means, says Carey, that the festival becomes not just a celebration of artworks but of the multilayered ways in which Edinburgh produces them.

Reinventing the old masters … Raqib Shaw’s The Adoration (after Jan Gossaert) (2015-16).
Reinventing the old masters … Raqib Shaw’s The Adoration (after Jan Gossaert) (2015-16). Photograph: Raqib Shaw/White Cube

One item in this year’s programme feels emblematic of what sets the festival apart. The Travelling Gallery is a gallery in a bus that has taken works by a remarkable roster of artists, from Douglas Gordon to Christian Marclay, to rural communities and schools, the festival itself and far beyond. Over 40 years, this Scottish art institution has covered the length and breadth of the country. City Art Centre’s show will celebrate that longstanding contribution, while punters will be able to take in a show by performance artist Gordon Douglas (“Who is not Douglas Gordon,” says Carey. “He really is Gordon Douglas”) on the bus itself.

The festival has historically had as strong an old-master contingent as it has contemporary, a trend this year’s historical surveys are set to confirm.

Rembrandt’s Landscape With the Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1647).
Influential … Rembrandt’s Landscape With the Rest on the Flight Into Egypt (1647). Photograph: Roy Hewson

The Queen’s Gallery will present a significant array of works by the Venetian master Canaletto, while Rembrandt will be the focal point of the Scottish National Gallery’s offering, an exhibition examining the impact the Dutch painter has had on British art through the centuries. Kashmiri-born artist Raqib Shaw will exhibit several works at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in dialogue with the pieces from the museum’s collection from which he has drawn inspiration. In addition, the gallery will be presenting its extensive Emil Nolde show, adding a number of works on paper by the German expressionist to those seen in last month’s version at the National Gallery of Ireland.

Dialogue – between the old and the new, the international and the hyperlocal – is the festival’s bloodline. “It plays,” says Carey, “to the sense of what our city becomes in the month of August. The population doubles as visitors from all over the world come to experience the very best of all the art forms.”


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