Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Review: 124th Annual Exhibition of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters

The 124th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters opened today at the Mall Galleries and continues until 18th December 2011.  The show is largely figurative within the realism/impressionism range with a range of subject matter across portraits, landscapes and still life.

There are 243 paintings in the main part of the exhibition.  Plus a further 19 paintings in the Winsor & Newton Young Artists section.  I understand there were about 700 paintings submitted to this open exhibition by both UK and international artists.

You can read more about the painters who won prizes and the ones who caught my eye below.

Ken Howard painting June Mendoza painting Ken by June Mendoza OBE RP ROI

I was at the Private View yesterday and managed to catch up with Adebanji Alade (Adenbanje Aladi) who now has Provisional ROI status and a portrait in the show - which sold yesterday at the PV.  We also share an enthusiasm for the paintings by David Curtis of which more anon.

As with the NEAC show, most of the West Gallery was devoted to members' work.  Work by non members tends to be on the small side.  I think this might be because the ROI was not exhibiting in the North Gallery this year.  (It has an excellent exhibition by a very skilled potter)

I wonder if this means smaller paintings by non-members have a better chance of being selected?

Below is the wall underneath the bookshop where I found a lot of non members work.

A sample from the Wall of small works in the West Gallery

Awards and Prizes

Winner of the Phyllis Roberts Award
Joanna by Irene Chmura

The awards this year were as follows:
Group of paintings by Roger Dellar ROI PS
London Lights - winner of the DAS Award - is in the middle 
Winner of the Dartington Crystal Chalice
Group of paintings by David Curtis

(excluding top middle painting)
Winner of the Le Clerc Memorial Medal
Group of paintings by Richard Coombes ROI
  • The Alan Gourlay Memorial Prize 2011 Turkish Tailor by Richard Combes ROI
  • L Cornelissen & Son - Finishing Touches, Franklin Street by Richard Combes ROI
  • Menana Joy Shwabe Memorial Award  (£250) - Shrimp Fisherman, Morecambe Bay by Roger R Jones
  • Frank Herring Easel Award - Fast Food by Dennis Gaskin
The Winsor & Newton Artists under 35 Oil Painting Awards 

Winner of the Winsor and Newton Young Artist Award (for artists under 35)
Self Portrait by Natalia Avdeeva
  • 1st prize (£1,000 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials) - Self Portrait by Natalia Avdeeva
  • 2nd Prize (£600 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials) - Performance by Lachlan Goudie
  • 3rd Prize (£400 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials) - Lena by Fedor Gridnev
Natalia Avdeeva's painting very much reminded me of William Coldstream and the plumbline painting technique.  Every item in the painting had been very precisely plotted as to centre and angle.  The palette and control of the tonal range was also rather splendid.
Other Artists

I was very impressed by the paintings of fellow art bloggers, Adebanji Alade, Sophie Ploeg (Sophie Ploeg) and Johnny Morant (Johnny Morant)

Both Adebanji and Sophie had portraits selected for the exhibition - and both were excellent.

Adebanje Alade (Provision ROI) in front of his (sold) portrait painting
The Face of Homelessness, Kings Road
and the sketch from life which he used to create the portrait 

Part of Sophie Ploeg's portrait titled Dream
Johnny Morant had three paintings selected - and I'll be featuring his aerial landscapes on The Art of the Landscape in the near future.  His other two paintings were excellent oil studies of plein air painters sketching on a beach.

Johnny Morant - Sketching on a Beach

I particularly liked Linda Meaney's bright and almost joyful paintings of Conkers and Acorns. Linda is a prime example of somebody who gave up her job and became a full time professional artist later in life - you can read her story here. I can readily understand why her paintings sell well.

Andrew Kinmont's painting of scudding clouds (below) was one of the more impressionistic in the show. It was also interesting to see a landscape of South Korean by Byung-Hak Lee

Over the moors, scudding clouds by Andrew Kinmont

Adebanji and I had a long discussion about David Curtis's landscapes which we both admire.  They seem very realistic and yet when you actually look at them closely you begin to realise there is a huge repertoire in terms of mark-making and painterly brishwork.  I also really liked his painting of wind swept pines above Sleights which I admired a lot.  What I hadn't realised before is that his paintings don't tend to include black or very dark darks - and yet there appears to be a huge tonal range.  It's quite a skill!

[UPDATE:  Here are the life studies by Luis Morris ROI which I forgot to post and which we have been discussing in the comments]

Morris - Life Studies by Luis Morris ROI

I was also much amused by the painting at the top of this post - of two members of the society painting one another.  Why don't we see more of these?

There are various art events during the course of the show (but I'm struggling to find a link with details).  These include a demonstration by Roger Dellar on 15th December from 2-4pm.


  1. Great review Katherine and I agree about the David Curtis works....very impressive! I also loved Adebanji's portrait and am not at all surprised it got snapped up quickly. I was really taken with the figure studies by Luis Morris too. Overall a cracking show. Sorry to have missed you....I was in the crowds somewhere :)

  2. You've just reminded me - I was going to include Luis Morris's work - I've got a photo

    My apologies, I'd forgotten you had 4 works in as a Provisional ROI. I'm trying to think where they were and whether I have a photo of them. Were they grouped together?

  3. Katherine, those figures by Luis were absolutely beautiful (wish I could afford to buy one!) and I think he'd sold at least one of them on the night. Deservedly so too. My paintings were spread out but the little plein air sunrise study is on the top right of the second picture in your post. Managed to sell the one of the punts at Magadalen bridge (Oxford) which was a great bonus. The others were in the east gallery. I thought Michael Portillo gave an excellent speech. The plans for adding windows to the east gallery sounds like a great idea!

  4. I got there later as I was going on to the PV for the Landscape Photographer of the Year at the National Theatre in the evening and didn't want to have to cope with the crush at the time of the speeches and be on my feet for too long. Feet are playing up again at the moment so I have to sit down straight away when they start twanging! It worked out nicely - pleasantly populated but not too many people by the time I got there!

  5. GREAT POST Katherine!!Thanks so much for the mention and that fabulous picture you took!
    Yes David, Luis Morris figures were a delight to behold!

  6. Paintings by Luis Morris have now been added at the end

  7. I thought I wrote a reply but it has not appeared...ugh...perhaps I was too dozy to hit the ‘publish’ button. Anyway...Thank you so much Katherine for the wonderful review and the mention+pic. I really appreciate it. It is great to see what else was on the walls there, feels like I was there a little bit after all....
    Thanks again!

  8. Thanks for the great review, a joy to read.


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