2 Canvas: Glasgow Art Store

A place where Sid Vicious sits next to Edgar Allen Poe, a place where Glasgow can look like Paris to the right photographer, a place asking what Obama’s campaign poster would look like in the 70’s: this is 2 Canvas.

This is what I call art.

In the GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) last year an exhibition featured an artist that caused even the stuffiest and most educated art-lovers to shake their heads and huff. For a limited time only, presenting: The Open Brolly.

That’s it. Just a black umbrella: not put in a provocative position, not swinging from Gene Kelly’s hand, not part of a Cabaret show. Nothing.

This 99p Pound Shop product open and exposed in the middle of a gallery was considered art. Some lucky sod had received a grant for opening an umbrella. Can a grant now be received for doodles of Mummy and Daddy at the beach, with a dragon around just for the hell of it?

2 Canvas put the GoMA to shame. Bill Laughlin’s printing service features every aspect of original. From original paintings by new artists, to your own designs applied to canvas or block, to your photos redesigned to whatever you want. You want your niece (or yourself) to be a fairy in Neverland? You got it!

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Maybe the deeper meaning of “The Open Brolly” is lost on some and can’t be enjoyed, but if you can’t enjoy it, what is art’s purpose?

“Pop art is how an individual sees it…”

Seven years ago someone asked Bill Laughlin for a better quality of a canvas print, and thus the printing shop known as 2 Canvas was born. From there artists freshly kicked out of university have approached the shop to share their creative works.

The shop is now a place for new art. New art from new artists. The next step beyond university and to getting their names heard and their art seen.

Pop art has always had a bad reputation. Like The Beatles while first playing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds at the demand of screaming fans, they were tainted by the droning of the BBC executives saying “The young ones today! They put no thought into it. Lazy, simple, and ultimately no story.”

To an extent they have a point. Art was TV before TV was invented, documenting slavery, religion and history in general. Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait or his can of soup wouldn’t have been considered art due to the fact that there seemed nothing beyond it. Can you find a story in a painted can of Campbell’s?

But the difference between Da Vinci and Warhol becomes obvious when looking at the comic book covered bust in 2 Canvas’s window and asking “What on Earth was going through Lucy Serris’s mind when she thought of that?”

Artists once told other’s stories; pop artists tell their own. And the words “express yourself” become clear.

One such prodigy of Bill’s is Marcus Hislop, whose colourful effects could only have been imagined on an LSD trip, who managed to create controlled chaos with splashed and crusted paint somehow shaped the face of his portrait subject.

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What has music done in our latest century with Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift and One Direction? Young artists for a young audience. Those above the age of 12 loathe them, but it sells. Pop art is heading in the same direction, but 2 Canvas haven’t quite reached that degrading level yet. “The Open Brolly” is Justin Beiber of the art world; Ami Gerassimoff’s “Bloody Apocalypse” Superman painting is the Ziggy Stardust.

Glasgow is a city of chaos, but also a mix of old principles with little money. While chaotic may be attractive to the people of Glasgow, new values don’t seem to be. With the recession, the benefit lifestyle and the general “Who cares?” attitude to the referendum question “Scottish or British?” culture takes a back seat for more pressing matters.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is a national treasure, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who can name another Scottish artist. But it’s not like we don’t love art. The corner of HMV most lingered over is the poster gallery and I know there’s been an occasionally thought of “That’s too beautiful to be stuck on shiny paper”.

So what 21st century Glasgow needs is new art and 2 Canvas is the pioneer to lead the revolution.

There are pointers that Glasgow’s culture is already evolving, with the stall in St Enoch’s selling smaller pieces of scenes around Glasgow, the kiss in the close* for example or whoevers* mosaic-like photographs of Glasgow’s landmarks and of course there’s the government commissioned, “Don’t spray over it, please!” painting of the girl with the magnifying glass down an alley in Argyle St.

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Maybe from a business point of view 2 Canvas would have done better in the West End, where Kelvingrove is, where I wouldn’t past it on the bus and where the rest of the population who don’t go near the West End due to the feeling of not having enough pennies in their purse to belong, can’t admire.

Despite the SNP’s desperate attempts, Glasgow is simply not the cultural capital of Britain: London is. With the looming independence vote, our revolution is ever more urgent. If we no longer want to be thought of as the culture of Bucky and Burberry we need more shops like 2 Canvas spread over Glasgow.

More shops like 2 Canvas are the way forward: young artists trying to get their name heard, selling to a less traditional audience seeking new beauty, for prices that don’t wipe us of our Christmas cash.

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