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Alan Johnston: Haus Wittgenstein/ Inverleith House

12 August - 30 September 1995 

Alan Johnston

Alan Johnston: installation view, "Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House", Inverleith House, 1995.

In 1994, Alan Johnston exhibited at the house which Ludwig Wittgenstein designed and built for his sister Marguerite in Vienna in 1927. On that occasion Johnston created works informed by the proportions and style of the building. This exhibition drew a parallel between the Haus Wittgenstein and Inverleith House, and again, was a direct response to the building and its context - which Johnston knows well as a native of the city. Writing about Johnston's exhibition in Vienna, the critic and writer Joseph Masheck observed "Johnston's ‘works' did not overly exploit the setting ... while his paintings, as austere as the building in style, held their own self sufficiently, like distinct propositions, by virtue of their sympathetic display in its principal rooms, the remarkable building was coaxed into view". In fact Alan Johnston has referred to Inverleith House as "That vault of simple clarity ... a viewing platform overlooking the city".

The exhibition consisted of pencil drawings - on stone, plaster, wood and linen prepared with titanium and zinc white. Their geometry and meticulous execution was arrived at intuitively, in a direct response to the spaces of the building itself. They reminded us of the observation of forms - at every level, and naturally referred to the practical starting point for scientific enquiry, namely the act of observation itself.

The exhibition also reflected Johnston's philosophical enquiry which encompassed not only Wittgenstein but the Eighteenth century philosophers (including David Hume), active at the time Inverleith House was built in 1774. His exploration of the themes of form and space was influenced by frequent visits to the garden in Yamaguchi designed by the Fifteenth century painter Sesshu, and the exhibition at Inverleith House included references to this garden and a reading list providing further sources of information.

Alan Johnston is an internationally regarded artist who has exhibited widely in Japan, New York and Germany since 1974.

"Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House" was sponsored by W & JR Watson Ltd, Watson Building Services Ltd, Scottish Natural Stones, Reiach and Hall, Architects,, 1851 The Exhibition Company, Sign Directory and Beck's Beer.

Lectures at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to coincide with the exhibition were:

Friday 11 August: "me, inner man monophone, Jarry in Joyce" William Anastasi, Artist, talked about influences on the work of James Joyce. Presented in association with the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney.

Saturday 12 August: "Recollections" - A talk by the distinguished American collector, author and historian Charles Carpenter presented to accompany the exhibition "Haus Wittgenstein - Inverleith House" of drawings by Alan Johnston. 

Alan Johnston

Alan Johnston: installation view, "Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House", Inverleith House, 1995.

Alan Johnston

Alan Johnston: installation view, "Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House", Inverleith House, 1995.

All works courtesy of the artist.

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