Scotland On Sunday Sun 16 Apr 2006
Critics' Choice ANN DONALD
Portraits of artists show changing face of a nation
DIVIDED SELVES . The Self-portrait in Scottish Art from the 17th Century to the Present Day
WHETHER you regard it as navel-gazing or self-analysis via the art of portraiture, the self-portrait can reveal far deeper aspects of the self than merely a replication of the face in the picture. This major exhibition co-curated by the Talbot Rice Gallery and The Fleming Collection in London investigates the history and nature of Scottish self-portraiture from the 17th century to today.
The first exhibition to focus exclusively on this aspect of Scottish art, Divided Self celebrates the vital role of self-portraiture, not only in the history of Scottish art over four centuries but more revealingly the changing sociopolitical conditions that generated a trend in Scottish visual self-examination.
Opening with the more conventional self-portraits of David Wilkie, Alan Ramsay, Henry Raeburn and Phoebe Traquair, the exhibition encompasses some of the finest Colourists' work by Peploe and Cadell before moving into the abstract works of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and a swathe of 20th-century big names such as Alberto Morrocco, The Glasgow Boys and Elizabeth Blackadder.
Conventional notions of self-portraiture are challenged in the works of cutting-edge contemporaries such as Douglas Gordon and Beagles and Ramsay, who seem to share the same predilection to don an Andy Warhol blond wig in their skewed photographic self-portraits.As a nation that has constantly sought to define itself, Divided Self should offer a new take on Rabbie Burns' wistful desire - to see ourselves as others see us.