Iain Gale on exhibitions

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To receive a postcard from Duncan MacAskill is to participate in one of the most original works in contemporary art. For some 10 years MacAskill has been sending postcards to selected individuals. Each one is an artwork in its own right, as well as being part of the ongoing process of making his larger, finished oil paintings. It is currently possible to experience both aspects of MacAskill's work in a recently opened exhibition in Nottingham.

MacAskill's style is hard to define. He paints large abstract canvases, gradually wearing away or obscuring the marks to produce a dense, seductively ambient space. The postcards, at first sight, appear to operate on a different level. They are abstract certainly, but their cut, pierced and scoured surfaces are altogether less serene than the large works. In addition, each one carries a cryptic message, "je suis ici" is a common comment. But it takes on an increased significance when you realise that the artist has engineered it so that the postmark should be the town of Descartes in France. Get it? Such puns and word play are all part of MacAskill's art.

These cards, though, are more than amusing or attractive objects.

On closer acquaintance, their place within MacAskill's work becomes clear. They are, in a sense, his sketchbooks, yet they also have a conceptual presence in the fact that they have been handled, sorted and delivered by other agents than the artist himself. For a part of the exhibition entitled "Mail Ego", MacAskill is inviting participation from the public. Take along a postage stamp and immortalise yourself in art.

Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham (0115-951 3192) to 28 Apr

Left: Duncan MacAskill's `CTAG', 1995

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