John Squire: Nefertiti

Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh, until Thu 19 Aug

Ex-Stone Roses guitarist John Squire describes this collection of work – his first in Scotland – as a ‘silent music project’, which clearly plays upon his desire to not return to making music and certainly not to go back to his old band. You could argue that this selection of 13 oil paintings, presented as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival at the gallery adjacent to Henderson’s restaurant, is his new album, though it isn’t one you can listen to.

The title is a reference to the 1967 Miles Davis album, a record that influenced Squire during the making of these works. Based around uniform impressions made by lino printing blocks and completed by freehand oil painting, the pieces largely fall into two categories. Some, such as ‘Milestones’, ‘So What?’ and ‘Et Alors’ (most titles are at least paraphrased from those of Davis’ albums or songs), see these printing block shapes arranged in disjointed, fragmented fashion, while others (‘Frederick’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Nefertiti’ itself) are presented in very neatly ordered rows and columns.

In either case there’s a repetitive, determinedly mechanical effect created by the process, as if Squire hammered out a steady, unflinching rhythm in one case and a more free-flowing jazz part in the other, but with printing blocks rather than a plectrum. The ‘music without music’ concept seems to be an in-joke, another implied reaction to the question he finds himself continually asked about whether the Roses will ever reform, but the painterly aspects of the work are also aesthetically very well-realised, bearing in mind of course that Squire is also one of the most notable record sleeve designers of the last two decades.

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