Ian Hamilton Finlay
About the Artist
A philosopher, sculptor and poet, Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) reinvigorated the classical tradition in a body of work that encompasses a variety of creative forms to celebrate the sustaining power of words. His diverse production encompassed a variety of creative forms including prints, poems, books, inscriptions, neons, sculptures, permanent installations and landscape design. The purest kind of conceptual artist, Finlay was sensitive to the formalist concerns (colour, shape, scale, texture, composition) of literary and artistic modernism. For almost forty years, he formed his works using philosophical texts, myths, characters and images from the past to make enigmatic juxtapositions and in so doing new thoughts. Finlay's adept use of syntax and narrative configuration weaved refined distinctions with a lyrical philosophy. His skill lay in his unique ability to break down complex ideas into coherent single words and short phrases, infused with Finlay's characteristic wit and, often, wry humour.
The exhibition included a range of Finlay's Revolutionary works, including the imposing eleven metre carved relief The Sound of Running Water, 1990, which was shown in the Bienal de São Paulo in 2012. This work features an evocative line that could serve as the introduction to themes of poetry and politics, and of beauty and immanence in the artist's work: THE SOUND OF RUNNING WATER HEARD THROUGH THE CHINKS IN A STONE DYKE: REVOLUTION.