Thursday, November 29, 2018

126th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters

The 126th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters marks the visible start for a lot of people to the presidency of Tim Benson.

The consensus so far is that it's looking very different - and very powerful - with lots of excellent paintings.

The Private View of the ROI 2018 - the Main Galleries were packed!
It was difficult to see them all properly at the Private View on Tuesday because the Mall Galleries were absolutely packed with people - and indeed was still very full when I left at 5.30pm. A packed PV is the sign of a well supported art society - and effective communication with known supporters.

I'm going to go back and visit it again before it finishes on the 9th December so I can take more time and stand back and see the pics without passing people!

Exhibition Dates: 28 November 2018 to 9 December 2018 at the Mall Galleries

A new approach

In this post I'm featuring some of the points made by Tim Benson said at the Opening of the Exhibition and the Awards Ceremony.

Tim Benson, President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, speaking at the opening of the exhibition
His own website has a strapline of "building awareness through painting" and he seems very focused on carrying this theme over into the activities of the ROI.

He finished
it is this very diversity, (of age, of gender, of ethnicity, of background) that makes the ROI such an exciting organisation. I believe that this is reflected in the work that you see around you on the walls today. Each painting represents the artist that painted it, each painting offers a window into their lives, a deeply personal lens that tells of daily routines, inspirations and dreams.”
Vice President Adebanji Alade - with his portraits of his children - who also paint!
Certainly I felt the exhibition has a different look to it. Not least because the walls of the Main Galleries and Threadneedle Space are packed with some 301 paintings in oils and acrylics - but mainly oils! (see below for further comment)

Prior to this he was talking about:
  • how could the ROI be a ‘progressive’ organisation? 
Now more than ever there is a schism between the world of painting and the ‘contemporary’ art world. Surely this disadvantages the art world at large? Surely in a time of increasing fracture and division the Art world should be unified? The ROI is in an incredible position to bridge that very gap, a place where painting of all genres is encouraged with neither a bias towards subject matter nor a ‘house style’. We are free to champion works that transcend traditional notions of painting just as we are free to celebrate them.

  • how to engage more with the world around us 
  • how to spot, nurture and encourage new talent
this year we have developed a partnership with the organisation ‘Hope in Tottenham’ to send ROI members into schools in and around the Tottenham area of London to talk to children about oil painting and to show them that they can be the next generation of oil painters and ROI members. Collaborations such as this are vital to avoid our isolation and to ensure that oil painting not only remains relevant but becomes indispensable .....well into the 21st century and beyond.
The ROI's Phyllis Roberts Award is intended to support and encourage young painters. The painting The Last Day by Bernadett Timko, is very impressive and I am entirely unsurprised that it won.

I'm getting very used to seeing Bernadette's name in the prizewinners whenever she exhibits in an exhibition. She has an amazing talent and paints, etches and makes sculpture. She was born in Hungary in 1992. Since 2011 she now lives and works in London and attended the Heatherley School of Art studying portraiture and sculpture between 2014 and 2018. She has also won prizes, awards and scholarships every year since 2014.

The Last Day by Berndaette Timko
WINNER of the Phyllis Roberts Prize
  • How to avoid the ROI being seen as part of the art elite
The art world has long been perceived as the preserve of the social elite and the Art societies are not immune from this tag. My hope is that by building relationships with school, we can demystify the Art world and engage people that would not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience oil paint. This will build on the ongoing efforts made by the Mall Galleries to make the gallery concept more available and less intimidating for artists. 
Painting should be accessible to everybody and while the ROI’s membership hails from a range of socio-economic backgrounds we as a an Institute can only benefit from yet more diversity within our ranks, something that will be reflected in the variety of work that we are able to show.
This reminds me very much of making a very similar point in relation to another FBA society exhibition earlier in the year.

The FBA Societies all need to avoid being seen as what I term - in a rather pointed shorthand - as "middle class, middle aged and middle Englanders". It feels like a change is happening. It is however essential that the societies avoid being like the BBC re. diversity issues - maintaining that they are operating properly until somebody points out that the actual facts suggest otherwise.

Back to Tim's speech and the key points
  • the need to make sure the exhibition reflects the community around us
Our Annual Exhibition gives us an opportunity to show the world what we are capable of as oil painters from an ideological viewpoint as well as a technical one, so this year we have a themed show within the main exhibition called ‘Community Spirit’. This small show of Member’s work will offer a bit of ‘cohesion’ in an increasingly divided world, reminding us of the unity within our society rather than it’s divisions. 
The Threadneedle Space exhibited the work by Young Artists (under the age of 35)
  • the need to continue the ROI's good work in encouraging young artists
I’m delighted that Winsor & Newton continues to offer the Young Artist Awards at the ROI. Like us they see the importance of encouraging young artists to hone their skills with oil paints. Being awarded one of the 3 prizes of Winsor & Newton materials allows these young painters to push the boundaries of their practice and to continue their artistic development. In fact it was winning one of these prizes that helped set me on my path as an artist
So there you go - from young artist winning a prize to President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters!

Here's this year's winner of the Winsor & Newton Yong Artists First Prize.....
....and maybe a future ROI Council Member or President?

Andrew Farmer with his painting "The Garden" - reflecting normal family life
WINNER of the Winsor & Newton First Prize for Young Artists
Then of course there's the need for an art society to properly reflect the gender balance in the world around us. Tim didn't say that bit but I'm sure he agrees....

Maria Rose - another one of the Young Artists
- who appeared on Sky TV painting in a pod in one of the Landscape Artist of the Year Heats

Other Prizewinners

The Mall Galleries posted an album of large images of the paintings which won the ROI Prizes & Awards on their Facebook Page - which is public for all to see - access them here.

L. Cornelissen & Son 

Lantian D is an excellent Chinese painter (from Australia?) who produces some outstanding figurative paintings and portraits - so this painting was quite a surprise. She's won a contemporary version of a Victorian Oil Painter’s equipment for her oil painting of a

Ecce Homo by Lantian D
Winner of the L. Cornelissen & Son Prize

The Dartington Crystal Chalice

Haidee- Jo Summers was presented with the crystal chalice - in recognition of outstanding service and contriubution to the ROI.

Haidee Jo Summers with three of her paintings - and the crystal chalice

The Artist Magazine Award 

No surprises here for why Fred Coppin is getting won this award and gets a feature in The Artist magazine. This is stunning painting - even if it did remind me of a rather bright version of Euan Uglow.
Georgie by Frederick Coppin
WINNER of The Artist Magazine Awar

The Dry Red Press Award 

The winning work by Collette Clegg will be published as a greeting card in the Dry Red Press ‘Prize Winners’ range, with royalties from the sale of the cards going to the artist. Collette is an Irish based artist who is based in the UK who habitually paints with a spatula

Collette Clegg - with her painting of Chioggia Beets
WINNER of the Dry Red Press Award

The Stanley Grimm Prize 

Two awards of £700, to the painters whose work receive the most votes from visitors to the exhibition
  • Lucy McKie and Daviud Curtis produced the two most popular paintings in the 2017 Exhibition

The Alan Gourley Memorial Award – £1,000

Winsor & Newton Young Artist Awards (for artists aged 35 or under) 

Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials to the value of

  • First Prize: £1,000 - Andrew Farmer The Garden (see above)
  • Second Prize: £600 - Bernadett Timko, B II (see above)
  • Third Prize: £400 - Tom Stevenson, Weekend on the Cathedral Close. He lives in Devon, works in oil and paints from life.

Winsor & Newton Non-Member Award 

  • Stuart Howitt won £150 worth of Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials for  Simian Simulacrum 

The Le Clerc Fowle Medal

Frank Herring Easel Award

The Menena Joy Schwabe Memorial Award – £250

Overview of the exhibition

The problem with providing a review is that I couldn't see all the paintings properly!

Still lots of people at 5pm!
As one of the members put it, the Private View is a social occasion to meet up with old friends and to talk about painting - and it was PACKED and busy!  I must confess I had a fabulous time on Tuesday afternoon meeting people I know and artists I've not met before.

I met Greg Mason who was going from the exhibition straight home to watch
himself get put through to the Final of Landscape Artist of the Year!
Review: Semi-Finals of Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - Felixstowe Docks)
It was all very enjoyable - but I don't feel like I've seen the exhibition!  So I'm going to be taking a look again early next week (probably Monday) and will write a proper review next week.

That said I'd very much recommend going because what I could see suggests that it's a very string exhibition.  I put some photos up in an album on Facebook and they've been getting a very good reception - and hopefully will prompt people to visit.

An emphasis on oil paints

I was very pleased to see that the bulk of the paintings (maybe some 90%?) are listed in the catalogue as being in oils and that the ROI is becoming more of an an exhibition which is true to its name - a group of oil painters.

It's long irked me that the ROI has represented one thing - and then I've seen another on the walls. I've nothing against acrylic and I think it can be a great medium in the right hands - but the painters in acrylics need to create their own society to demonstrate the full range of its versatility - and stop trampling on the art societies and exhibitions of the painters who use traditional oils and traditional watercolours. [RANT OVER!]

....and so

I'll be back next week with more about the ROI exhibition - including hopefully:
  • the number of non ROI artists who entered
  • the number of paintings submitted
  • the number selected 

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