12 August 2015
Word of mouth is the happy fall back for exploring Edinburgh’s festivals, when thousands of shows shovel their star ratings at you in a noisy clamour for time and attention. So when a Scottish artist and retired teacher, asks what’s interesting in the Edinburgh Art Festival this year, we talk MC Escher and John Bellany – and I tell him to go see Audrey Grant’s show, at the Union Gallery in Broughton Street.
The exhibition is not actually in the festival. Established galleries in the city have to opt in financially to get a mention there and some have declined to do so. But that does not prevent them showcasing their top offerings. Grant, though just turned 50, is an artist to watch, and the word of mouth on her work is very good.
For customers of the Union Gallery, and of Painter and Hall, who now represent her in London, Audrey Grant is also an artist to buy. By opening night, of 18 paintings in the exhibition, all but three or four had sold. Her last exhibition at Panter and Hall has now entirely sold out; she will go back to Pall Mall, with a solo exhibition in the gallery’s larger upper space, and who knows if she’ll soon be lost to London entirely.
Introducing Grant’s exhibition two years ago, the critic Jan Patience wrote how she scratched her head for days to articulate how the works affected her; I did the same. The solitary figures she paints carry an immediate, accessible charm. These still waters run deep; scratch the surface, absorbing, grave, thought-provoking. They are from an artist in a later-life career, making a series of interesting shifts through different degrees of abstraction.