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Eco artist’s magical maps of Africa 1999  Susan Nickallis published in U.K. newspaper - The Scotsman

Robert Slingsby’s vibrant acrylics bring a welcome dash of colour to an otherwise drab summer in Edinburgh.

At first glance, the paintings by the South African artist appear as a glorious tangle of shapes and symbols. But closer inspection reveals intricate maps which tell of stories and journeys in a similar way to the Aboriginal songlines and sand paintings.

That said, Slingsby’s extraordinary melding of the old and the new into a complex jigsaw of images is unlike that of any other artists. Many of the dominant issues in Slingby’s paintings deal with his concern for Africa and its environment.

'White Trash' and 'Road Kill' offer a silent protest to the rusty machines and cars strewn across the veldt – a contrast to the ecologically sound bushman who leave few footprints on the landscape. “The rise and fall” has Table Mountain as its central image, representing the positive and negative aspects of diamond mining. Apparently elephants and whales make similar high pitched sounds and in “Elephant Sonics”, Slingsby explores the concept that they might talk to each other.

The paintings might be one-dimensional, but Slingsby’s etching into the thick paint creates an effect not unlike the ancient symbols carved into stone, many of which he incorporates into his work. There is a faint whiff of Mondrian and Picasso in paintings such as “Passing Dreams” and “Gaia and the long memories” featuring musical instruments in cubist shapes.

Slingsby is not the sort of artist to confine himself to one medium. He sculpts aluminium into Chinese and Egyptian motives, which sway seductively from the ceiling. They also appear as part of his large 'Spiral', lit with purple neon lighting, impressively made out of one piece of aluminum. In “Opening of the Heart”, African shapes emerge out of the striking aluminium frame, made specially for the work by Slingsby. Inside a yellow heart beats above the body’s intestines, representing a new and outward looking South Africa.

This excellent exhibition is presented by the newly-established Sable Gallery, which specializes in showing South African and Scottish art.

Robert Slingsby at the Bourne Fine Art Dundas Gallery continues until; Saturday, 10am – 6.30pm, telephone 0131-558 9363

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UPDATED 2nd July 2016