Interestingly - as an aside - portraiture seems to ignore all the 'rules' about contemporary framing for exhibitions in London and there are many dark and heavy frames in the show. Although a number had progressed towards framing in more neutral and lighter tones.
|A wall in the North Gallery|
There are some feature walls of drawings near the cafe area with other drawings being dotted around the exhibition.
Alan Coulson - a non member - has two very accomplished drawings in graphite in the show - Freya and Personal profile. His work has also been exhibited in the BP Portrait Award in the past and again this year. He struck me as being the sort of person I'd expect to see with RP after his name at some point in the future. (One of his paintings last year Ciara was quite beautiful; Latoyah has been selected for the BP in 2011). Both his drawings and his paintings have a sense of a very quiet insistance on being noticed. They're not in any way "look at me" works, however they are meticulous and project a very strong sense of acute observation. I can only imagine they are worked up from photographs, however there is something about them which makes me not ask the question "why not just display the photograph".
|a selection of drawings|
It was good to see a pastel work with very agreeable mark-making in the works on display in Anthony Morris RP NEAC pastel drawing of Ray Finch MBE craftsman potter. Other drawings I liked were by Stuart Whitton and Benjamin Sullivan RP.
|Ray Finch MBE craftsman potter by Anthony Morris RP NEAC|
|Talking with Valerie Grove by June Mendoza|
I ask Mendoza her view of artists who paint from photographs. A lot of people turn out competent, wonderful stuff that way, but I can't work like that. I want nothing in between me and the person. When I see a beautiful portrait done from blown-up photographs, I think, That must have been a splendid photograph. Why don't they use the photographIt was great to be able to see the portrait which resulted. I also liked her portrait of Dr David Starkey (see her website for a large image) The event on Monday 16th May involves both June Mendoza and David Starkey - along with other participants - in a discussion about the process of portraiture
Recognised portrait artists and distinguished sitters discuss portraiture from the inside.I chatted to my ex tutor James Lloyd RP (who won the Arts Award) about his portrait of the Queen. It was done as a commission for Queen's College Cambridge and he was granted two sittings of an hour each, which meant that a lot of the work necessarily had to be done from photographs and studies. I thought he'd done an excellent job of capturing ehat I think of as a characteristic face. His latest commission is a portrait of Dame Maggie Smith for the National Portrait Gallery.
|HM Queen Elizabeth II by James Lloyd|
|Julian Fellowes, The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford by Daphne Todd|
I was fascinated to see Toby Wiggins's portrait in oil of Jim Bennett, retired Hunt Servant - which I first saw as a drawing in the 2007 exhibition of the work he had done as a result of winning the 2006 BP Travel Award
I also liked Nicholas Martin's Three men on the Isle of Wight and Emily Porter Salmon's painting of David Hockney, a local artist
|A wall of small works|
|View of the West Gallery - 120th Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Open Exhibition 2011|
You can see a slideshow of images of some of the portraits on the BBC website
Finally I gather from Annabel Elton, the very nice lady who provides the support for people wanting to commission an artist from one of the Art Societies based at the Mall, that the RP website is being relaunched in the very near future. I had a look-see at the pilot and it looks really great - very contemporary and accessible.
How to see the exhibition
The exhibition can be seen at the Mall Galleries every day until Friday 20th May between the hours of 10 and 5. Admission £2.50, £1.50 concessions, (Free to FBA Friends, Art Fund members, Westminster Res-card holders and under 16s).
Links to Royal Society of Portrait Painters:
- Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2011 (Part 1)
- Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual ...17 May 2010
- Exhibition review: Royal Society of Portrait ...08 May 2009
- James Lloyd wins The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture 24 Apr 2008
- portrait completed in 2 hours wins ondaatje prize 26 Apr 2007