Friday, April 28, 2017

Discerning Eye (1990-2016) - which artists have shown the most?

In 2016, the Discerning Eye Exhibition of small works celebrated its 25th anniversary. (see my review of the 2016 exhibition ING Discerning Eye 2016 - award winners and review)

The DE people have done a count and calculated that in the first 25 years:
  • 3,563 artists have been selected for the 25 exhibitions and 
  • 12,490 works of art have been exhibited!
What's very interesting is that the website now lists the top 20 artists who have shown work in the shows. Those with a number more than 25 have had multiple works picked in certain years.

What makes this interesting is that these are artists who either have universal appeal over time - or are very well connected to those doing the selection! (i.e. the table does not explain how many were invited to exhibit and how many of the paintings came from selection via the open entry). Whichever, it's still a fascinating list.

Below is the list and embedded in their names is a link to their website. Interspersed are
  • some of my photos from past exhibitions - although I've only been covering them for 10 years. (Below is my own small work - a sketch from the 2007 ING Discerning Eye exhibition - which is one of my favourites. I believe that Mall Galleries enthusiasts will have no difficulty recognising the man with no face!)
  • some quotations from individuals associated with the exhibitions.
Small paintings, at their best, have something unique to offer the viewer - intimacy. Intimacy affords the artist an opportunity to speculate.  Qualities which would normally be inappropriate in a larger work thrive. Small paintings can be exquisite, tentative and fragile. Small paintings can embrace uncertainty without seeming flawed. By the same token small paintings demand a kind of accuracy on the part of the artist, accuracy of intention. | Graham Crowley - top 20 artist and artist selector 2002

"Visual Language"
my sketch in pencil and coloured pencil from my first ING Discerning Eye exhibition

Most Shown Artists at Discerning Eye

Light reflected across the valley - Paul Newland (DE 2015)
oil, 15x15 inches
Joint top with 34 works each are:

The latter two have provided some unique perspectives on art and how to address its modern ills.

First a comment from John Ward in the context of the third exhibition.
....a painter needs his punter and a punter needs to understand his painting without the help of a psychiatric report.

There has remained in this country and, as far as I have noticed in my travels, in this country only, a hard core of painters who have stayed true to the ideals that have held good in painting through many centuries. Today's rising painters are beginning to see what has been lost and, in spite of inadequate teaching, are producing work worthy of the name of painting. Just as there has been a core of painters, there has always been an unsung body of patrons who have, with their own money and often for very modest sums, bought what pleased them and answered their question "is it a good or a bad painting?".

This collection is an offering to those discerning eyes for whom "is it good?" is of paramount importance. Perhaps the 'Shock of the New' could be replaced by the 'Shock of the Good'? (
John Ward - third exhibition ~ 27 November to 6 December 1992)

This is about Michael Reynolds.
Steeped in the work of the masters, from Velázquez to Manet and Degas, Sickert, Bonnard and Vuillard, he had little sympathy with any later modernist developments, least of all abstraction, and what he saw, not entirely without reason, as the fatuities of conceptualism would reduce him to spluttering rage. Its critical success, institutional support and cynical commercial exploitation brought him close to despair.In 1989, along with the no less outspoken critic Brian Sewell, he set up The Discerning Eye, which has since become one of the most popular of the annual open-submission exhibitions. His was the basic idea: the work to be selected by a mixed panel of critics, artists and collectors, two of each, but none of whom could then enjoy the protection of a collective decision. Each made a choice from the work submitted, and had then to stand openly by it, shown en bloc in the actual exhibition. Guardian Obituary for Michael Reynolds by William Packer
Next is Linda Hubbard with 31 works. I recommend you take a look at her most recent small works. She also has a great Twitter feed

My all time favourite piece ever - exhibited in 2015
Banana Leaves Bowl (2015) by Hitomi Hosono

Then comes three artists who have each shown 28 paintings:
I have tried to make a collection that reflects my passion for painting directly from life, as opposed to copying photographs or using projectors. The conscious moment inter-weaving with unconscious patterns, in the immediate context of the subject or at the behest of imagination, is to me what gives painting its significance. I believe the conceptual view to be a half-truth at best, but the painted moment is authentic. | Robbie Wraith 2010 selector
Robbie Wraith's wall in 2010
Two women have had 26 paintings or prints each in the show
The best collectors, like the best artists, create with their selection an intriguing and exiting whole that is more than the sum of its parts. I believe that all good art tells us more about the artist than that artist may wish us to know. Art should not be just a demonstration of ability, although ability is essential. Really good art exposes the artist, and by doing so reaches out to other people, communicating shared emotion | Anita Klein 2008
Next we have two artists on 25 paintings each - one for every year of the competition but most likely selected in small groups
  • Tom Coates RP RBA RWS PS NEAC - the artist who is a member of a great many art societies and a Past president of NEAC. He was an artist selector in 1999.
  • Danny Markey - who crops up in a lot of shows these days with his small works. He's one of a few artists who paint the everyday views and scenes of contemporary life and landscape
The new two are female artists with 24 paintings each

Most of Eileen Hogan's curated wall in 2013
  • Eileen Hogan - I'm a fan - although on the whole I like her larger works better - especially the gardens. She does a few things besides painting. She is a Research Professor at Wimbledon College of Art, a Patron of Mindroom and a trustee of the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation. She was also an artist selector in 2013.
Drawing is fundamental part of my practice. I often work in series; my starting point is almost always walking, observing and drawing in my sketchbooks. It’s a disorganized, unself-conscious habit. In the sketchbooks, I write notes, make lists, draw the same things over and over again. I find out what I am thinking and what matters to me, and this is often clarified by drawing again from memory. It is a way of testing out potential work, but I also draw when I lay out the content of my paintings and again when they are almost finished, often leaving these marks visible because drawing at this stage adds to the expressive possibilities of paint. Prof. Eileen Hogan on Royal Drawing School website
  • Stephanie Hurst - I can't find a website for her, her name just doesn't ring a bell and I "know nothing". Can anybody help me out?
ING Discerning Eye 2011
- the Private View is always very crowded with a lot of the artists and their friends

Next we have four artists on 23 paintings each
Graham considers the idea that to simply ‘like’ something in a critical context is banal. website
  • Marguerite Horner - bit of an odd website. Plus Wikipedia entry
  • The late Albert Irvin RAan English abstract expressionist painter.  He died in 2015
  • James Lloyd RP - He's my ex "drawing a head" tutor, at the Royal Drawing School. He's also the only person to have ever won the two major portrait prizes in the UK - the BP Portrait Award and the Ondaatje Prize. He paints an awful lot of portraits for commissions - and then paints still life inbetween times.  He was an artist selector in 2001.

Finally, there are three artists who each have had 22 paintings selected.

For those who aspire to join them in the lists of artists selected for this very popular art competition, I shall leave you with a 'parting shot' from Eileen Hogan commenting about the experience in 2013.

I hadn't realised quite how detrimental certain frames can be to appreciating work swiftly in a 'conveyer-belt' system of presentation.

View of part of the exhibition in 2015


In my blog posts listed below you can:
  • find out about selected artists - and see their websites 
  • see what the artwork actually looked like hung on the wall in previous exhibitions 

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