Paintings as Arguments: Five Decades of Cultural & Political Change in Scotland

Alexander Moffat & Alan Riach

142 pp., 39 full colour illustrations, £12.00 + p&p

Published September 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9562260-2-0

Published on the occasion of Sandy Moffat’s retrospective exhibition of the same name at Peacock Visual Arts, the book takes the form of a conversation between the artist and his friend and co-author of a number of works on culture, the arts and Scotland, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, Alan Riach.

Both exhibition and book look at the life and work of Alexander Moffat as an artist, gallery director and curator, student and teacher and, in doing so, illuminate the changing political and cultural terrain of Scotland and its international context over the last half-century. They show not only Moffat’s own major significance as a modern artist in Scotland, but also lead into the exploration of questions, normally unasked, about what art is for in the context of cultural and political change and how paintings engage in the arguments of the social world ‘out there’.

Nor are the authors reluctant to offer critical views: be it Riach castigating the mass media for their marginalisation of artists and intellectuals or Moffat attacking the present ethos of managerialism that pervades art schools.

This is a fascinating account of a life in the visual arts, which charts the massive changes that have swept Scotland over the last fifty years. Constant however is the unswerving belief, evident throughout, in the absolute value of the arts in giving us the most essential information about what it means to be human. It is engaging, informative, and hugely thought provoking.

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Paintings as Arguments