Thursday, November 18, 2010

REVIEW: The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2010

The winner of the £5,000 ING Discerning Eye Purchase Prize 2010 is Charlotte Harris for her painting of Strawberries and Cream.
ING Purchase Prize (£5,000): 
Strawberries and Cream by Charlotte Harris

oil on canvas, 38 x 39.5cm
Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.  What makes the iNG Discerning Eye different is that:
  • this is a show of small works - you can see from some of the larger photos what that means
  • the works are independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics.
  • Work is selected from open submission and also from artists invited by the individual selectors. 
The best thing about the exhibition is that each selector's choice of works is hung separately.  This means you can see a coherent picture of the taste of an individual curator as well as the range of works submitted - or not as the case may be.

One of the things I hate about seeing exhibitions in November is the weather.  Last week when the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition opened at the Mall galleries it was absolutely appalling squally type which looked likely to become worse - so I stayed at home!  All my resolutions about getting there sooner rather than later got hijacked and so I ended up visiting a week late.

The exhibition closes this Sunday but is worth getting to see if you are in London.

Features of the exhibition

I very much enjoy the fact that the selectors are not attempting to reach any sort of consensus as to which works should be included. 

I did however spot one artist this year who looks as if he was popular acoss the board - and that's Peter Lennertz who had work chosen by three different selectors.  In 2007 he was voted toymaker of the year by the British Toymaker's Guild.  It's good to see that automata can be recognised as art as well as toys!

Going Green by Peter Lennertz

The artists' selection

a small section of the monochrome wall
Last year Robbie Wraith won the Discerning Eye Founder's Purchase Prize.  This year he was one of the artist selectors.  I very much enjoyed his choice of 91 paintings, drawing and prints and I would have been happy to just tour up and down his wall.
I always do a quick scoot round to see what atttacts my eye straight away and then come back again to look more closely.

I absolutely loved his wall of monochrome drawings and prints at the top of the stairs (see above photo for just a small selection).  It was a strong and coherent statement by somebody who knows what sort of art he likes. 

Collections by Robbie Wraith (left) and Nina Campbell (right)
I was fascinated to find that much of what attracted me were paintings by artists I've begun to know well - such as Diana Armfield, Felicity House and, somewhat surprisingly, this year's BP Portrait Prize winner Daphne Todd's small paintings - of a still life and a landscape - particularly the latter (see below).  I also found that most of the paintings which I wanted were on his wall - as were a number of the prizes!

works by Daphne Todd
Ishbel Myerscough, who selected 81 pieces, said she selected on the basis of clarity of vision rather than clarity of execution.   I found the flow of work didn't always work for me - maybe because overall the wall represented so many different eyes and so many different visions?

However within that there were some work which stood out. Notably Paul Newland's watercolours, Ohla Pryymak's two interiors and Henrietta Labouchere's figures (see right).

The collectors selection

I liked most of Nina Campbell's selection (71 pieces in section 5 at the west end of the gallery) and felt it hung together well. 

This was my second favourite collection.  Her selection also included a number of works which won prizes.

One artwork I loved was Study in red and white by Atsuko FujiiPeter Haslam Fox's figurative works in watercolour were also eye-catching - Particularly Individual 1 which won the Benton Purchase Prize.  You can see many more of his paintings of individual figures on his website.

Part of Nina Campbell's selection
Part of Judith Collins' selection

Judith Collins selection - 61 pieces in section 6 in the east gallery - had a style of its own suggesting this lady has a very clear idea of what she likes and dislikes.  Not surprising given that she is a Writer and former Senior Curator, Tate Britain.  However, with a few exceptions most of it wasn't to my own personal taste.  Nice to see Fay Ballard's monochrome drawing of a root though and Jeanette Barnes working small for a change! 

Ms Collins made an interesting comment about the choice on offer to the selectors.
I expected nudes and portraits, but not many appeared and these were outnumbered by arrangements of vegetables and fruit.
The models are of course cheaper when you do a still life! ;)

The critics selection

To be honest neither of the selections by the two critics (Timothy Barber Arts editor, City AM and Mark Rappolt Editor, Art Review) made a huge impression on me.  Weird I know - but there you go.

It was honest of Timothy Barber to say that he had no idea what his chosen pieces would like when hung.  Again there was an issue for me of pieces which were good but a collection which didn't seem to flow.  Maybe I couldn't see wood for trees?

I think Mark Rappolt had the fewest artists in his selection of 60 pieces. 

I really did not like the north gallery this year.  It felt very disjointed - possibly because the choices made were also ones which featured variety at the expense of coherence.  Also because I couldn't tell where the Discerning Eye competition finished and where the exhibition for the Drawing Bursary started.  I think there was an attempt at a transition which, for me, frankly did not work.

I also expected to be able to tell which artist won the David Gluck Drawing Bursary but was left rather in the dark on that one.

Overall it's interesting to note that this year I seem to have focused much more on how the individual curator's choices of work presented as a whole.  I think l like the people who have picked more artists and more work - but who have also grouped work in a way which makes sense to me and enables all the work to be appreciated. 

I'd really love to know the proportion of selected artists to invited artists in each curator's selection.  I rather suspect that I also like those who have more artists who have come through the selection process!
    Award winners

    You can find a table of award winners below.

    I must confess I was somewhat surprised by the choice of painting for the ING purchase prize.  It's certainly been the case that the prize has typically gone to an artist who paints in a very realistic way - and Strawberries and Cream is an excellent painting in the hyper-realistic vein.  However as always with such paintings I end up wondering 'why?'.  It's an interesting technical challenge and it is exceptionally well painted how I've found other paintings in the past which have won this prize to be far more absorbing in terms of content.

    I'd love to see an analysis of who won the prizes - selected artists or invited artists - as I think this is important feedback for all those artists who participate in a competitive entry.

    I'd say the invited artists had the edge - certainly the winner of the Purchase Prize is not on the list of selected artists.  You can compare the list with the list of selected artists ING Discerning Eye 2010 - selected artists.

    ING Purchase Prize£5,000 Charlotte HarrisStrawberries and cream3/43
    Discerning Eye Founder's Purchase Prize £2,500 David Caldwell
    Roxanna Halls
    Self Portrait
    Discerning Eye Chairman's Purchase Prize £1,000 Kathy Little River, late afternoon 2/59
    The Meynell Fenton Prize £1,000 Tony Noble Spring tide: study 5 2/2
    The Benton Purchase Prize £1,000 Peter Haslam Fox Individual 1 5/19
    The Carole Nicholl Purchase Prize£1,000Jo FoxSpeech day3/30
    The Humphreys Purchase Prize£750Felix le BroxEvening, The Plateau2/58
    The V&A Acquisition Prize
    Tania Kovats Untitled6
    East Anglia £250 Susan Taylor Yew tree on ruined wall 2/128
    London & South East £250Paul NewlandEvening: London1/59
    Midlands £250 Kathy LittleRiver, late afternoon2/59
    North of England £250 Judith CainLaos - the small pools 3/9
    Wales £250Coyan CardenasSheep Skull2/20
    West Country £250Rose SandersonHarlequin Beetle6/50

    The Exhibition continues until Sunday 21 November. Entrance is free and the galleries are open daily between 10 am and 5pm.


    1 comment:

    adebanji said...

    I am happy you enjoyed Robbie's selections too! I really enjoyed them, even though I enjoyed the whole exhibition too!

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