NOW | Monster Chetwynd, Henry Coombes, Moyna Flannigan, Betye Saar, Wael Shawky

The fourth instalment of the National Galleries of Scotland's contemporary art series, NOW, featured among its works the playful, thought-provoking work of Monster Chetwynd.

In this blog, Senior Curator Alice Strang discusses the exhibition, which took place from October 2018 to April 2019 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Hi Alice, can you tell us a little about NOW?

NOW is a three-year programme of contemporary art exhibitions spanning 2017-2020. It reflects the National Galleries of Scotland’s ambition to share contemporary art with a wide audience, highlighting the extraordinary quality and range of work being made by artists associated with Scotland, as well as those from across the globe.

Which artists were part of NOW this time around?

At the centre of the fourth instalment of NOW was a major survey of work by the Turner Prize-nominated artist Monster Chetwynd. Known primarily for her exuberant performances that feature multiple props, costumes and collaborators, Chetwynd’s presentation included new and existing collages, paintings, wallpaper and performance videos.


She sounds incredible! Which other artists were involved?

NOW also brought together new and recent work by four other artists: Henry Coombes, Moyna Flannigan, Betye Saar and Wael Shawky. Whilst varying in medium, style and approach, the work of all the artists in the exhibition was connected by a shared desire to challenge convention.

Edinburgh-based Moyna Flannigan’s new collages and paintings, which were shown here for the first time, mark a significant transition in her approach to making. They continue to develop the artist’s interest in the history of art and painting, as well as the recurring power of the figure. 

Produced in 2009, The Bedfords is a moving image work by Glasgow-based artist Henry Coombes. Acquired for the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection in 2014, it is a brooding re-imagining of the relationship between celebrated Victorian painter Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–1873) and the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.


NOW also featured the first ever major presentations in Scotland of installation and video work by American Betye Saar and Egyptian Wael Shawky. Los Angeles based-Saar’s major work, Mojotech, 1987, takes the form of an altarpiece and combines her interest in a variety of spiritual forces with a curiosity about the possibility for magic in technology.

Wael Shawky’s ambitious Cabaret Crusades trilogy of moving image works explores the complex historical and socio-political narratives surrounding the Christian Holy Wars.

Betye Saar, Mojotech, 1987
Wael Shawky, Film Still, Cabaret Crusades The Horrow Show File, 2010

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 Ampersand Foundation, and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.

By Eleanor Bally, 18 October 2018