Kirsten Sinclair

France-Lise McGurn: In Emotia Review


France-Lise McGurn, a Glasgow based artist, has exhibited an all-encompassing show of technical mastery by installing figurative paintings and three-dimensional neon sculptures into the space of the Tramway gallery. Through fluid and spilling bodily gestures as well as life drawing, the gallery walls, doors, pillars and windows are incorporated into a harmonious state of being which co-exist, one in which a body is in motion while thus also being emotional; In Emotia. McGurn’s brush strokes create nuances that inhabit the canvases and are reiterated on the walls where they are hung. There is a dynamic conversation, a feeling that I as a viewer, and as a woman, felt addressed me, between the figures residing within the site-specific work; flesh tones against a gestured, washed background exchange the boundaries between one body and the next as well as one surface and another.

The repetition of congregated yet boundless gestures, such as that of the sweeping wrist or curling fingers, have been created with a clear and definite line of paint. As a viewer we can thus imagine a narrative whereby these multiples of figures, who overlay one another in particular moments or exist autonomously in others and acknowledge the escape of the picture plane, allow for an intimate exchange of bodies, In Emotia. I was able to participate in an obvious rhythm between the figures, of whom are mainly women, that of the over layering of paint in the installation itself as well as the bodies within the spaces they exist- aspects of McGurn’s own life and inhabited city cultures.

These now familiar figures have existed in night clubs and parties, an atmosphere re-created on the opening night of the show; the neon sculptures demanding their presence through the inside to the outside of the gallery, via the windows of which McGurn had also painted upon. The neon sculptures, such as ‘Anything That Moves “Vicky”’, add to the dynamism of the exhibition, the repetition of colour, line and form is one associated with the femininity of the woman’s body, from subtle pinks to intense reds, and their lived experiences. The successful spatial composition allows for a real navigation of the intimacy of space, reflecting light and paint in a back and forth motion. The bustling atmosphere of the opening night called for a one in, one out stream of exhibition visitors and thereby restated the club scene evocation of rhythmic bodies depicted in the figures themselves and the lives they live.

Stood on the street, outside of the exhibition and looking in, there was a real moment of existing within McGurn’s relational and immersive work; drawn into the scene and inwardly to oneself as a participant. This is certainly a pulsating exhibition that I would stand in line for again.

France-Lise McGurn: In Emotia runs at Tramway, Glasgow from 18 January until 22 March 2020.