The Vigorous Imagination: New Scottish Art Explored 30 Years On

The Vigorous Imagination: New Scottish Ar

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark exhibition ‘The Vigorous Imagination: New Scottish Art’ that was presented at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1987 as the featured Edinburgh International Festival art exhibition.

It was a proud pronouncement that visual art in Scotland was vibrant, intelligent and in touch with the zeitgeist

Two shows jointly celebrating this event open next week in Glasgow & Edinburgh: The Fine Art Society, Edinburgh October 26th and Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, 27th. These two concurrent exhibitions of 17 now famous artists, grew out of discussions between Roger Billcliffe and Clare Henry, one of the original selectors.

Adrian Wisznieski Collars and Cuffs
Adrian Wisznieski Collars and Cuffs © Courtesy of the Artist

The ‘New Glasgow Boys’: Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, Ken Currie, Adrian Wiszniewski, and Dundee trained sculptor David Mach & photographer-installation artists Calum Colvin & Ron O’Donnell, are now household names, but back then were all young mid-twenties.

The Vigorous Imagination is notable for its pioneering inclusion of large-scale installation and performance alongside impressive, vibrant oil paintings. According to the famous Ruth Wishart, “It was truly one of the most groundbreaking exhibitions I’ve ever seen and an absolute landmark for the visual arts in Scotland.”

Three decades ago The Vigorous Imagination put Scottish art on the map and paved the way for Glasgow’s fame as a pivotal centre for contemporary art.
Both galleries will show new work, while Edinburgh will include historic works from 1987.

Both exhibitions will showcase current work from these artists. The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh will also exhibit, side by side, work from 1987 offering a rare chance to see a groundbreaking group of work over a 30-year span. This group came to influence the wider artistic landscape in Scotland and beyond, and The Vigorous Imagination paved the way for the current crop of international artists whose fame attests to the vibrancy of Glasgow as a pivotal centre for contemporary art.

Top Photo: GMA by Clare Henry

THE VIGOROUS IMAGINATION 30 years on: then & now The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh and Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, Opening 26 and 27 October 2017


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