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EXHIBITION

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REVIEW

Robert Ryman At Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, until 1 October Robert Ryman has been an artist for 50 years but still seems to take nothing for granted, beginning with the choice of materials for his paintings. At 18th-century Inverleith House this summer are works made with aluminium, fibreglass and plexiglass, as well as corrugated cardboard, paper, and good old-fashioned canvas. To these surfaces Ryman applies oil, acrylic, enamel, pastel or some other medium, and does so in very varied ways - evenly or atmospherically, or lushly.

Then there's the manner in which the works are hung: a piece of vinyl is almost ush with the wall, while other pieces project and cast a shadow or are fastened by 'black oxide octagonal steel bolts'. And not forgetting colour: Ryman has famously restricted himself to white, but there are many different 'whites' against the uniform one of Inverleith House's walls.

So Ryman systematically takes apart the process of painting, isolating and examining every move, making you notice nuances in these light-filled rooms. If this sounds didactic rather than a source of pleasure, that's not the case.

Hung sparely as they are, single pieces can be beautiful, some particularly so. There's a barely suppressed hedonism as shreds of blue underpainting emerge amid the white (see picture), while one work could be a cloud study by Constable. And in Versions XI the underlying grid becomes explicit, rhyming with the grid of glazing bars in the nearby window and the grid of Edinburgh's New Town in the distance; this piece is perfectly placed.

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