An introduction to the fifth instalment of NOW, the latest exhibition in our contemporary art series

For the last three years, the National Galleries of Scotland has brought together some of the most innovative and exciting contemporary art from the UK and beyond at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, with our dynamic programme of exhibitions all labelled under the collective banner NOW.

Previous instalments have seen the Gallery showcase the stunning monumental paintings of Jenny Saville (b. 1970), the ground-breaking soundscapes of Susan Philipsz (b. 1965), Nathan Coley’s (b. 1967) dazzling collection of cardboard churches in his The Lamp of Sacrifice and the playful, exploratory art of Monster Chetwynd (b. 1973), among many other contemporary artists.

Our fifth iteration – which is open now – sees Anya Gallaccio’s explorations on the theme of transformation, led by the spectacular centre-piece of Red on Green (1992-present). For around two weeks, Red on Green is a gorgeous and enticing display of 10,000 velvety red roses. During the exhibition, however, these roses gradually decay, transforming into something different altogether. Their smell, form and colour will alter; the latter shifting from arresting red to purpled black, meaning visitors will have a different experience of the artwork on every visit.

Gallaccio is one of the UK’s most prominent artists, first emerging from the group known as the Young British Artists (YBAs) in the 1990s. Along with Red on Green, she will exhibit a series of existing and new works further exploring her fascination with the effects of time on the materials she uses.

Anya Gallaccio, Red on Green , 1992-present. 10,000 red roses, Variable dimensions. Image: Thomas Dane Gallery. Collection: The Hyman Collection, London & the artist © Anya Gallacio


British artist Roger Hiorns (b.1975) creates surprising transformations of objects, which in NOW include a decommissioned X-Ray machine, a jet engine and an ordinary park bench. These works will be further transformed – or in Hiorns’ words, ‘activated’ – by the presence of a naked man and a small fire. Alongside these are be Hiorns’ works on panels and canvas made from varying materials, including one comprised of beautiful sparkling shards of blue copper sulphate crystals.

Roger Hiorns, Untitled, 2012. Bench, youth, flame, variable dimensions. Collection: National Galleries of Scotland © Roger Hiorns

Among the works on display from Edinburgh-based Aurélien Froment (b. 1976) are a 200-metre length of rope which changes colour gradually from one end of the spectrum to the other, and a film collaboration with Canadian poet Steven McCaffrey that documents the worsening of the Tapestry of Angers, France’s oldest surviving medieval tapestry. A recent Galleries acquisition, a fascinating installation from Charles Avery (b. 1973) which continues to explore his painstakingly-detailed project The Islanders, will be exhibited for the very first time.

In NOW, Zineb Sedira (b.1963) is showing work from her Sugar Routes and Sugar Surfaces series; her images of new ‘landscapes ‘of mountains of sugar in siloes and warehouses highlight the sugar industry’s massive scale by exploring the way sugar is produced, distributed and consumed, and will be accompanied by cast-sugar sculptures that delve into the industry’s dark history.

The duo of Katharina Stöver (b. 1982) and Barbara Wolff (b. 1980), as their ongoing collaborative project Peles Empire, have transformed one room into an installation that fuses photocopied imagery of the remarkable interiors of Romania’s Peles Castle with actual parts of the building, in order to create an immersive environment in which the original and the copy are intertwined and blurred.

Zineb Sedira, Sugar Surfaces, 2013. C-Print, 180 x 144 cm. Collection: The Artist’s Collection © Zineb Sedira

The NOW programme is being made possible thanks to the support of the NGS Foundation, Kent and Vicki Logan, Walter Scott and Partners Limited, Robert and Nicky Wilson, The Henry Moore Foundation, Fluxus and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.

NOW featuring Anya Gallaccio, Charles Avery, Aurélien Froment, Roger Hiorns, Peles Empire and Zineb Sedira is open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until 22 September 2019. Admission is free.

More information can be found here. 

By Harris Brine, 1 June 2019