Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters - 123rd Annual Exhibition 2010

123rd Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters at the Mall Galleries
Private View 7th December 2010
On Tuesday I went to the Preview of the 123rd Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters which opened to the public on 8th December.

While I've been doing nomination posts, Adebanji Alade (Adebanji Alade: My Art, My Passion for Sketching) has done an absolutely excellent job of reviewing the exhibition on his blog.   Plus he knows a lot of the painters so has got a great commentary about a number of the paintings.  See:
Adebanji Alade - with his painting "Summer Crowds, Pavilion Theatre, Cromer" £1,650
See also Coastal Painting with Adebanji Alade on The Art of the Landscape.

So what I'm going to do is post a few of my images of the exhibition, note whose work I particularly liked and comment on a few aspects of the exhibition

The exhibition is on at the Mall Galleries and continues until 18th December - so lots of time to see it this next week.
The only major national art society that is devoted exclusively to oil painting, featuring a wide variety of contemporary landscape, figurative and still life paintings by some of the finest established artists working in oil today. Other highlights include the Winsor & Newton under 35 Oil Painting Awards and ‘The Artist’ magazine competition winner.
Award winners

Commendatore Antonio Carluccio OBE performed the official opening and helped President Peter Wileman PROI FRSA present the Awards.

Selection: The President made the point of noting that 260 works had been chosen from over 800 entries (% acceptance rate) and that members' work had to face the same panel as those submitting through the open process.  The selection panel comprises the 12 Council members plus three other member artists on a rotating basis.  A number of works get into the "doubtful" pile early on and then are reviewed again at the end.  The difference between getting in and not getting in might be just one vote.  It's not unusual for artists to take 2 - 3 years to get a piece accepted.

The award winners were as follows.  I'm afraid my list is incomplete.
  • The Stanley Grimm Prize (total £700): Peter Barker and June MendozaAO, OBE, RP, ROI, HonSWA
  • The Dartington Crystal Chalice Award - presented in recognition of outstanding service and contribution - was also presented to June Mendoza
  • Winsor and Newton Oil Painters Awards - see Winsor and Newton Oil Painter Awards.  The prizewinning paintings were all hung on the end wall of the West gallery
Portraits on the end wall - including the three prizewinners of the Winsor and Newton Oil Painter Awards
  • The Phyllis Roberts Award (£2,000) was won won by Leanne Rutter who also won the Winsor and Newton 2nd prize.  Her painting Post Paralysis had a fascinating back story.
  • The A&K Wilson Award (£300) for the painting that the judge would most like to take home with him was won by Chris Bennett 
  • The Arts Club Award was won by one of my favourite painters Luis Morris.
  • The Le Clerc Fowle Medal for an outstanding group of paintings was won by Roger Dellar ROI, RI, PS.  You can see his large and impressive painting of Honfleur below.
Late afternoon light, Honfleur (£3,450) by Roger Dellar ROI RI PS (one of his group of paintings)
Oil paintings by David Curtis ROI
Dawn, Clayworth Wharf (3,850) won the L Cornelissen & Son Award and is on the right.
Works in the East Gallery - Good Companions (£8,250) by Denis Syrett is on the right
  • The DAS award  (a Blue Crystal Glass Bowl and £500) for a work of distinction was awarded to Denis Syrett FROI RBA RSMA for his painting Good Companions.  
Winter Rooftops, Carshalton (£950) by John Stilman
  • The Frank Herring Easel Award (a box easel) was awarded to John Stilman for his painting of Winter Rooftops, Carshalton.  Like Adebanji I liked this painting a lot.  It's small but catches the eye with its simplicity of composition and tonal design and use of complementary colours. There were a lot of paintings of snow in the exhibition - and it looks like there's going to be a lot more scope this winter for UK artists to get out and try their hand at snow painting!
  • The Ranelagh Press Award for an exceptional small oil was awarded to Philip James ROI for Life Model Paola.  I rather liked the prize which was a but unusual as art society prizes go - it's 500 x A6 postcards of the winning painting.
Other Artists

I found Jeremy Barlow's work a tad too garish for my personal taste and oddly, as somebody who loves Paul Banning's work, I found his a tad too subdued.  It does make me wonder whether my spotty cataracts are now interfering with my seeing colour!

The 'loud' colour is not something I take issue with per se - it's when it's coupled with realism rather than interpretation that it"looks wrong" to me.  For example John Sprakes landscapes were interesting - with oil (or acrylic - I don't know) used in a calligraphic way.

John Sprakes ROI RBA
I guess it's difficult to know when enhancement and exaggeration become OTT - and I think it's very likely everybody's view on that is personal to them.

It was interesting to see Nicholas Verrall's work.  Like President Peter Wileman, he also exaggerates colour a lot but for some reason I prefer their work more.  Maybe because both make a lot more use of muted colours?

January, Wenceslas Square, Prague (£3,250) by Nicholas Verrall
The major "look at me" painting in the exhibition was Twilight Thaw by George Devlin RSW RGI RBA ROI ARWS FRSA.  I couldn't for the life of me understand why it hadn't won a prize!  I was also rather impressed by his website which was one of the most accessible I've come across of late.

Twilight Thaw (£12,500) by George Devlin - flanked by two landscapes by Peter Wileman
Comments on the Exhibition

Adebanji told me something I hadn't realised before.  Apparently this exhibition is also open to painters in acrylic - so long as the work is framed like an oil painting.

Here are the ROI Conditions of Entry for anybody thinking of having a try at entering a piece next year.  If you want to get your calendar marked up, the Receiving Days in 2011 are Friday 28th and Saturday 29th October 2011 (10am-5pm) at the Mall Galleries.
Maximum of six works to be submitted. Maximum of four works to be selected.

Acceptable media: Oils. Acrylic is acceptable if it is framed as an oil, so as not to spoil the general appearance of the exhibition. Glazing is seldom appropriate but, above all, wide mounts between painting and frame, as in watercolours, are NOT acceptable. Every year the selectors exclude fine work that fails to conform to this criteria. Paintings thus rejected will have ‘XF’ chalked on the reverse.

Maximum size: The longest dimensions of each work exhibited, when added together, must not total more than 3m (10 feet). We cannot receive pictures taller than 2.4m (8ft), please call in advance if your work exceeds this.

All works must be for sale. Minimum price: £300.
Labels:  Speaking personally, I'd have liked to have seen both the catalogue and the labels being more explicit about the media in use.  If not all is oil then I think buyers need to be aware of that otherwise we could have the situation where purchasers think they've bought an oil painting and actually have bought an acrylic.

Presentation:  The one thing I'd like to see next year is the set up for the awards changed so that we can see the presentation to the award winners much more easily.  I saw rather too many backs and rather too few award winners! It's such a pity when winning a prize might be the pinnacle of an artist's career for that moment not to be recorded by photographs by family and friends and there were no opportunities for these.  I gave up trying to take photographs as there was nowhere to get a satisfactory picture.

One of the other things which I found very curious about this exhibition was its very pronounced bias towards male painters.  I was pretty sure this was the case as I was going round.  When I got home I did a count up based on the names in the catalogue.  Excluding the Young Artists Finalists the ratio of male to female artists was 3.75:1 - which seemed an awful lot higher than most shows I go to.  The ratio for the young artists was more like 2:1.

Now is it the case that women artists don't paint in oils or maybe they just don't submit their work to the ROI?



  1. I never cease to be amazed at the range of talent out there - and have also taken note of your comment regarding mounting - seems a shame to reject a pleasing artwork for that reason.

    There's a giveaway on my blog, Katherine, if you would like to take part.

  2. Thanks

    That's not my comment per se so much as an extract from the ROI rules for entry of works into their exhibition

  3. Wow, what a wonderful review! All your points were carefully noted-I just wonder how you do it all!
    Just seeing this now, I felt a real shock seeing my picture, thanks Katherine!

  4. :) Just so long as it wasn't like the real shock I get when I look in the mirror in the morning! ;)

    It was really great meeting up with you after all this time of just missing each other at exhibitions. I loved your reviews of the exhibition - highly recommended by me!

    You're probably in for another shock when you see my photo of you and your painting again on Coastal Painting with Adebanji Alade on The Art of the Landscape! I didn't tell you about that one because I only discovered your painting DVD as I was writing the review.

    I'm doing another one tomorrow about your Bath painting marathon.


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