First things first. The exhibition currently owning the main gallery in Glasgow's Tramway is not by Australian musician Nick Cave of The Bad Seeds fame. It's an easy mistake to make and I confess when I I first heard about Until by Nick Cave, I thought to myself: "I didn't know Nick Cave was a visual artist…"

Tramway's Nick Cave is a 60-year-old African American artist and activist who lives and works in Chicago. Renowned for his Soundsuits, ornate figurative sculptures that can be worn and performed, he works across a range of mediums, including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. This is his first major exhibition in Europe.

Whatever the medium, Cave's message is always political. His first Soundsuit, made out of twigs, was a direct response to the beating of African American construction worker, Rodney King, by four police officers (three of them white) in Los Angeles in 1991. The beating was filmed by a bystander and the subsequent trial saw the officers concerned acquitted of the charges brought against them. Images of the street riots which followed their acquittal were beamed around the world.

Mere words on a page cannot prepare you for the first sight of this multi-layered show through the double doors of Tramway's main space.

The exhibition's title is a play on the phrase "innocent until proven guilty". Or in this case "guilty until proven innocent". Cave is making a pointed political statement in what is an epic work, albeit one which slowly unravels as your eye and brain try to make sense of it.

Usually people walk briskly into an exhibition; eager to see what lies within. But in this case, visitors – myself included – were stopping in their tracks at the entrance. At one point, I look back at a group standing at the front door gawping; mentally calibrating what they were seeing. Meanwhile parents and carers were restraining small children whose senses were overheating looking at Cave's Kinetic Spinner Forest.

This is a vast space but Cave has literally tipped out the contents of his head – not to mention an archive picked up in yard-sales and vintage shops – and filled it with a dreamscape for a divided world.

The Kinetic Spinner Forest is the first thing which hits you between the eyes – and the ears. Consisting of 1,800 mobiles made from metallic spinning garden ornaments, this manmade forest of kinetic spinners hangs from the rafters in steps and stairs. The brightly-coloured spinners shimmer, shine and turn hypnotically. It's only when you get in about them that you realise that some have at their centre a teardrop, or a hand-gun. It may look playful to little ones but danger lurks in this man-made forest.

I visited the exhibition the weekend after gunmen in the U.S. cities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people. These were the latest mass shootings in a year which has seen 15 previous incidents in which a large number of people were killed and injured.

And so it goes on. Watching pistol after pistol whirl around inside its shiny spinner left me feeling dizzy and unnerved.

It took seven weeks to install the show and I'm not surprised. As part of this exhibition, there are 16,000 wind spinners; millions of beads; thousands of ceramic objects; more than ten miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; one crocodile; and 17 cast-iron "lawn jockeys" (about which more below).

The curio-cluttered Cloudscape lies beyond the Spinner Forest. It reminded me of American fantasy comedy series, The Good Place, in which the lead character dies and goes to "heaven" as a reward for leading a good life.

And so it is in Nick Cave's "good place". A canopy of chandeliers forms the underside of a crystal cloud. Emerging from the four "corners" of the cloud, are four post-industrial sunbeam-style ladders on casters painted in the brightest canary yellow you can imagine. People with mobility problems will miss out on Cave's cloudscape but I was lucky enough to be able to climb up all four ladders to immerse myself in this Garden of Eden of sorts.

There is quite literally too much for the eye to behold in this section of the show.

Cave has been gathering the material in his garden for years and it ranges from antique toys, ceramic birds, fruit and animals, buttons, festive decorations, pompoms, crochet blankets, gramophones, gilded pigs and pony beads.

At the dark heart of this sculptural garden, is racist memorabilia Cave has collected over the course of the last decade; removing them from circulation at vintage shops and yard sales across the U.S.

The "Jocko"-style lawn jockeys were new to me but the story behind their existence is suitably tragic. Jacko Graves was an African American boy who served with George Washington during the American War of Independence (1775-83). He was instructed one freezing night to look after the horse and keep a lantern lit for the troops' return. He stayed by his post until he froze to death.

These "souvenirs", based on this poor lad's demise, date back to America’s so-called "Jim Crow Years" from 1877 to 1965; an era which saw enforced legalised racial segregation in the Southern United States.

The hunched appearance of the jockeys – always a black man wearing jockey clothes – depict servitude. For me, the saddest thing about them is that in a nod back to tragic Jacko, they were placed in front gardens as hitching posts.

Cave has placed the 17 reclaimed "Jockos" around his garden holding dreamcatchers made from vintage tennis racquets and beads. Back home, I kept thinking of these wee statues, prowling endlessly around this garden-of-sorts, teeming with the decorative detritus of past lives.

Is there racism in heaven, Cave is asking? Probably…

The exhibition continues with a series of beaded murals and wall hangings. Hand-woven with thousands of colourful beads, some are embedded with slogans – one has the single word POWER – or images from popular culture such as a rainbow or a smiley face emoji.

African beads conjure up so many different connotations; pride, beauty, culture, power and identity. At the height of the slave trade, Africans were sold in exchange for beads. All of this is writ large in the murals.

Until is a giant shiny tapestry which overwhelms the synapses yet nourishes the soul. It makes you sad, happy and angry all at once. What more could you ask of art?

Until: Nick Cave, Tramway (Main Gallery), 25 Albert Dr, Glasgow G41 2PE, Until November 24, Mon 12–5pm, Tue–Fri, 12– 5pm, Sat & Sun, 12–6pm. Free

Critic's Choice

The worlds of science and art often collide but for Henry Jabbour, taking the decision to leave a high-flying career as a senior scientist at Edinburgh University’s Medical School to become an artist was not taken lightly.

Back in 2010, Jabbour was offered a prestigious Chair in Reproductive Health when he decided that rather than be consumed by his career as a scientist, he wanted to concentrate on learning how to paint.

Jabbour, now 57, left his job as a senior scientist to study full-time for three years at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh. He went on to win a place at the prestigious New York Academy of Art, which offers a rigorous training in drawing and painting.

Now the Beirut-born artist's richly coloured figurative paintings – often inspired by people he knows – have won awards and are being sought out by art collectors around the world.

This summer he has won two prizes at the Royal Society of British Artists, and fought off stiff competition to be selected for the prestigious Biennial Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize exhibition in London.

HIs second solo exhibition, A Life More Human, opened last weekend at Edinburgh’s Union Gallery.

Alison Auldjo, director of the gallery, believes the exhibition during the Edinburgh Art Festival will be an important breakthrough show for the former scientist.

“Henry is a phenomenal talent," she says. "I knew him first as a successful scientist with a huge passion for art, and I was curious when he began to embark on his own artistic adventure.

“Now I look at his work with astonishment. How can someone who came to art relatively late be this good? His work is living proof that painting isn’t dead.

Henry Jabbour: A Life More Human, Union Gallery, 4 Drumsheugh Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7PT, 0131 225 8779,, Until September 9. Open Mon-Sat, 10.30am- Free.

Don't Miss

This major exhibition of paintings from the long and creative life of op-art queen, Bridget Reilly, stands out for all sorts of reasons. A bobby-dazzler of a show, which has been years in the making, it spans ten rooms in the Edinburgh's Royal Scottish Academy upper and lower galleries.

The artistic life of Riley is laid out for all to see, from lines of development, through seminal works and – in the last rooms – her very early drawings and painting. It might be pricey but it's worth every penny.

Bridget Riley, Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, 0131 624 6200, Until September 22. Tickets: £15-£13 (Concessions available)

25 & under: £10-£8.50. Free for Friends of NGoS