Thursday, December 05, 2019

Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2019

The 2019 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters opened last week and has been holding a number of events. Including the one I attended today - when I finally got to see the exhibition after a very bad week with a very painful ankle. (see Why I'm not reviewing the ROI and RMS Exhibitions - yet!)

oil paintings in the main gallery - in the centre three by David Curtis

The exhibition comprises:
  • an exhibition within an exhibition - with paintings on a theme of "London in oil paint"
  • 304 paintings in two galleries - the Main Gallery and the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries.
  • until 1pm on Sunday 8 December 2019
It's also being holding lots of events
  • ROI Paint Live was held last Saturday - with oil painters out painting plein air within half a mile of the Galleries - these are the people who prizes at the end - I love the Ian Layton painting.

  • There was also an Art Event Portrait Evening 
  • Two painters John Walson and Natalia Avdeeva - painted in the gallery during the art event with Winsor & Newton yesterday 

Lots and lots of people at the Winsor & Newton "Discover Oil Paint" event

Anyway - expeditions with my ankle the way it is at the moment make me incredibly tired afterwards so what I'm doing is this.
  • below I'll give you the edited highlights of the exhibition
  • tomorrow I'll reflect on whether I want to say or add in any more.

Review of the ROI 2019 exhibition

I'm really sorry I missed the Private View for this exhibition as I very often attend. As it is it clashed with another Private View which is the one I went to - and stood up for too long - hence my inability to walk afterwards.

If like me you're unable to get to the exhibition in person for any reason you can see:
However I'm puzzled.

I don't quite understand why

  • there are works on the walls and in the online listing of works which are not in the exhibition catalogue.  
  • there are works in the exhibition and in the catalogue - but are not in the online listing. 
Given the amount of sales which now start online (as I understand) I can think of no good reason not to list every work online.....

A corner of the Threadneedle Space

Oil means oil! 

95% of the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters comprises paintings in oils. Less than 5% is in acrylic. See the figures below for trends over the last six years

I very much like the fact this exhibition is EXACTLY what it says it is i.e. an exhibition of oil painters.  If you want to see good oil painting this is the exhibition to come to!

Number and percentage of works - by medium - in the ROI Annual Exhibitions 2014-2019

One wonders why we can't also have 95% of annual exhibitions of watercolour societies in traditional watercolours i.e the ones where the paint remains soluble after it dries if you apply more water!

View of the ROI 2019 exhibition in the Threadneedle Space

Which artists are doing well

I now count sales for analysis of the exhibition metrics.

Congrats to those artists who have three or more sales as at 10 days into the exhibition
. It's interesting to see that a wide range of subjects appeal to buyers!
  • Adebanji Alade VPROI - urban London scenes with people
  • Linda Alexander SBA ROI - realist still life with silver and fruit/flowers (who is a consistent good seller at every exhibition)
  • Jeremy Barlow ROI - paintings of sunshine in places in southern Europe and north Africa
  • Lucy Marks - abstracted landscapes
  • Barry Peckham ROI RSMA - boats on the coast
I'll be doing further notes about the sales and the pricing later.

London in Oils

I really liked the exhibition within an exhibition of the paintings of London.

Views of London #1
Looking at the sales it would be no bad thing to do this on a regular basis. I've always wondered why more societies don't take advantage of the fact that people like to buy paintings of views they know or places where they live - and that the paintings have much more impact when hung together. 

More views of London #2

The Hang

The hang of the rest of the exhibition slightly irritated me. The reason being that there was no candidates' wall and their work was split up around the exhibition.  

Spreading candidates artwork around the exhibition as a whole requires all the members voting to 
  • find all the paintings by the candidates spread around the exhibition and then 
  • retain these images in their heads and then 
  • assess which candidates they like the best while NOT having their artwork in front of them. 
I much prefer the approach adopted by other FBA societies of hanging all the candidates work together and next to one another. That way it's 
  • much easier for the members to choose who they want to elevate to membership
  • much fairer to all the candidates because they know that members saw all their work hung in the exhibition.  
  • It also provides a very good baseline for those applying for candidature in the future in terms of the standard they might need to aspire too.
The wall used by other societies to hang the candidates artwork

The exhibition didn't quite 'grab me'. Maybe it was because there was so much else going on in the Main Gallery.  But the hang keeps niggling - I think what was in the exhibition could have looked better on the wall. I suspect this year has seen a change in who hangs what.

The Small Works

While there was a lot to like among the small works, I think there needs to be a bit of a pep talk to some of the members. Small works should also be excellent i.e. no less good than those bigger paintings that a member or open artist might produce. Some works stood out while others didn't - or did - but for the wrong reason.

The public knows this and spends their money on those who produce good work.

In addition the small works didn't read for me. Certain exhibitions achieve a great "read across" - but this wasn't one of them. Grouping is what matters not a chequer board hang.

Scope to improve the hang of the small works to generate a better impact
PS I also don't like seeing small works hung low on a wall (see Threadneedle image two above). That's rather like saying they're insignificant.... to which my response would be to ask why you're hanging them at all.

Previous Exhibitions

You can find links to my previous reviews of exhibitions below.

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