Saturday, August 11, 2012

RWS 'Picturing Britain' at Bankside Gallery

The Olympics finish this weekend as does "Picturing Britain" - the special exhibition by the Royal Watercolour Society at the Bankside Gallery.
In this historic year the Royal Watercolour Society presents a celebration of all things British. Come and see how RWS artists have been inspired by the diverse events of 2012, from the Thames Jubilee Pageant to the London Olympic Games.
Sample of paintings in the Picturing Britain exhibition on Bankside website

I'd planned to see this exhibition when it opened however what I hadn't planned on was being side-swiped for the last two weeks by excruciating pain from a trapped nerve in my shoulder and arm.  (Medication and therapy is now making trips out possible again!)

Paintings in the exhibition

I know that websites can't always convey what a painting looks like in real life - but on the basis of the slideshow, the paintings which I liked best were by Richard Bawden, Peter Quinn and Mark Raggett.  I know all the Olympic sites painted by Mark from the Greenway, the paths by the rivers  and Stratford and he's caught the state they were in for a long time very well indeed.  149 Days to Go, Trafalgar Square is an excellent rendition by Peter Quinn of the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square on a winter's Evening.  Richard Bawden's painting of Gloriana Approaching Hungerford Bridge is one of the best of those executed to record the Jubilee Celebration.

What I find really very odd about the paintings on the website is the bias towards what appears to me to be a 'faux naive' style.  Why has Martin Leman suddenly decided to paint like Alfred Wallis? Very odd.  To my mind, there just seems to be rather too much in a naive style and rather too few paintings by artists demonstrating skills in draughtsmanship and the ability to utilise the full range of characteristics of watercolour paint.  I believe the latter is what prompts people make trips to see exhibitions at the Bankside Gallery.

The problem with 'faux naieve' is that it can tend to make a commercial gallery website look no better than one which hosts the amateur art of a provincial art society - and that in my experience of viewing numerous exhibitions is then always reflected in sales.

I'm hoping to see the exhibition later today and will report back with an update.  I'll be paying particular attention to the range of styles, the skills demonstrated and the quantity of red spots!  I'm also going to try and answer the questions 'Is this the best the RWS can do'?

Watch this space for an update.

1 comment:

  1. well said re the Faux Naive style, I loathe it and it is becoming more and more apparent (my loathing and the style!!)


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