ART HISTORY POLITICS SCIENCE FICTION
A Pantheon of Images
Review By Graeme Murray
It was my pleasure, during a respite from the January blizzards of 1993, to visit the large farmhouse at Korpúlfsstadir on the outskirts of Reykjavik, which is the proposed site of the new Erró Museum. The building is situated near the head of an estuary, with a backdrop of mountains apparently of Tibetan proportions. In a previous year I had travelled around Iceland visiting its spectacular glaciers and volcanic structures, and became aware of the magical, dream-like aspects of this elemental world. The setting for the entrance of the Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, it is a land of great mythologies and vibrancy of atmosphere.
In his capacity in invent and to compose his cosmology of images, taken from the world bank of comics and picture books, I find Erró’s work similarly fascinating. Whereas the comic strip tradition originated in Britain about 1900 with children’s humour, it was distinctly different in the States. 1929 saw the creation of Tarzan of the Apes and 1938 the Superhero comics and science-fiction. The 1950s saw the creations of Jack Kirby and, as exemplified in our exhibition image Science Fiction Scape 1992, it is from Kirby’s work that Erró has drawn many of his comic images.
I am reminded of my first pleasure in reading Dan Dare in The Eagle, and the classic science-fiction comics with their futuristic plots and painstakingly drawn pictures and composed pictures. It is this nostalgic pleasure which is re-encountered as one experience of Erró’s works, and the reminder of an evolved shorthand style of pictorial representation which relies upon the onlooker to fill in the gaps imaginatively one of the differences from the fine art tradition, and one ot the attractions to children. When it comes to his political works, however, it becomes apparent that Erró has also exploited and developed the theme of the megalomanic another aspect of the comic strip tradition. In Motorscape and Renaultscape 1984 we are presented with the logical conclusion of Henry Ford’s dream: a junk-yard landscape of broken-up cars, stretching beyond the horizon. Erró’s paintings function, therefore, on various levels: as comic and artistic visions, futuristic science-scapes and political commentaries.
Erró has shown regularly since 1955 with major presentations in Munich, Paris New York and Tokyo. It seems suitable that Erró’s first showing in the United Kingdom should be in Scotland where, through the work of a number of talented artists (most notably Sydney Jordan, best known for the Jeff Hawke comic strip which appeared in The Daily Express) comic art is already well established.
It gives me great pleasure to present this unique and exciting exhibition in Edinburgh. I would like to thank Gunner Kvaran of the Reykjavik Municipal Art Museum for introducing me to Erró’s work, and for his help in making this exhibition possible. I would also like to thank Erró for honouring The Fruitmarket Gallery with his first UK show.