Iain Gale on exhibitions

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The Independent Online
Artists are incorrigible borrowers. The art of the past is a seemingly endless source of inspiration. Think of Cezanne and Poussin, of Bacon, Van Gogh and Millet. The question is "how far can you go?" Possible answers are put forward by an exhibition currently on view in Edinburgh.

"The Borrowed Image" presents the work of eight artists - all of whom have in some way appropriated imagery from familiar works of art by past masters - from Rembrandt and Gericault to Masaccio, Goya and Picasso. In each case, the image has been transformed by degrees of artistic intervention - its original meaning variously subverted or re-emphasised to produce a new art work with a more particular relevance for our own age.

In the Expulsion from the Garden, After Masaccio, the undeservedly little- exhibited young artist Martin Fraser takes a large photograph of the famous old master painting from the Brancacci chapel in Florence, and overpaints it with a livid palette of chemical blue and green, applied with wide brush strokes. Fraser remakes Masaccio as an image of universal melancholy, as applicable to the implicit tragedy of the human condition as to its more specific original context.

Marcus Coates's approach to the work of Rembrandt and Petrus Christus takes a similar and successfully expansive viewpoint, while Ian Hughes's Raft of the Medusa (after Gericault) is misdirected, unable to improve on an already peerless image. The other artists in this interesting if not always successful enquiry into the nature of originality include David Godbold, David Mabb, Sharon Hall, John Hyatt and Veronica Slater.

City Art Centre, Edinburgh (0131-225 2424) to 29 Jun

Left: detail from Coates's 'Self Portrait/Petrus Christus'