Artist Bernie Reid’s first institutional UK exhibition Ornamental Breakdown is coming to an end at Edinburgh Printmakers. As an art student myself – and having already been to one of Bernie’s talks at college – I went along to take a gander.
Seeing some of Bernie’s work during his talk had already sparked my curiosity, and I was not disappointed seeing them in real life. I find Bernie’s work really quite fascinating, as there’s always so much going on, and not in a straightforward way.
He uses a mix of stencils, spraypaints and traditional oils on unconventional materials (did someone say slip-resistant flooring bolted to the walls using screws and washers?) which results in some mindblowing stuff.
There’s hints of surrealism and futurism in these works, with Reid citing Fortuno Depero as a major inspiration.
Below I’ve discussed four pieces from this exhibition, including two of my faves.
Lacoste in the Park
Lacoste in the Park is probably my favourite of this entire exhibition due to the colours, the effects in the background with the swirls and textures, and then how that bleeds into the central figure.
All of these works are figurative, but in such an interesting way that makes you stop and look twice. They’re disjointed, yet vibrant, dynamic and each full of its own unique character and charm. In this instance it’s the pop of red – and that arm – that gets me.
Onto my second favourite piece from this exhibition, Skeleton 2. Again, what caught my eye the most here is the beautiful background and textures, which I’d love to find a way to take inspiration from (as someone who’s chosen painting as a specialism).
This figure doesn’t seem quite what the name suggests, in that there are some skeletal elements, but also others that look far more substantial. Much like some of the works below, the limbs are going in different directions, and there are things that don’t always make sense to the eye – but that’s okay.
It’s a little bit chaotic, very bold, and it looks like for this person the stairs behind them are just out of reach, and they’re stuck in some limbo world.
Figure with Lemon
For me, one of the most striking things about this is the effect of the tights on the right. It looks like a figure within a figure, and there’s a lot to process. I can also see the lemon, which is in an interesting place! Why is it there?
For me it seems to represent a relationship, and the complexities that entails, as your life is entwined with another. It’s a combination of hard and soft shapes, which also makes me feel quite happy for some reason.
Figure with Sports Sock
I’ve noted down this one is spraypaint and rabbit skin on vinyl flooring – as you do. It’s not my absolute favourite of this exhibition, but what I do appreciate the most is the technical complexity, and again the shapes that form the character.
The symbols and the stylisation make it very interesting to look at. The character looks light to the point of transparent at times, and it’s a delight for the eyes to take in.
I really enjoyed this exhibition, and I hope to see many more from Bernie in future.
Having heard about his journey to get to where he is now (surviving commercialism and losing the fun of what was once his bread and butter), and the fact he’s now able to create these characters with sheer joy and abandon makes me want to root for him.
Y’hear that, Bernie? You’re firmly on my radar (me being that cheeky student who asked you if you’d ever won Creative Scotland funding, and how).
Thanks for reading my thoughts, and I’ll catch you next time.
Review: Bernie Reid’s ‘Ornamental Breakdown’