Arts Editor Ed Grimble and Deputy Editor Myla Lloyd provide their highlights from the Royal West of England Academy’s annual Open Exhibition, which opened on Sunday
The RWA’s Open Exhibition returns for its 164th year. Showcasing the work of both Academicians and external artists, this vibrant exhibition features over five-hundred works. With an overwhelming display of art in all manner of styles and medium, ranging from the local to the international, here are some of our top picks:
- Rose Vickers, Blue Tumbling Blocks
Aside from its engaging, almost entrancing, geometric design, this piece is sustained by the juxtaposition of a highly aesthetic artefact (the work itself), and its subject matter of a very workaday wooden rules. It is practicality enlisted for the aim of beauty.
- Karl Singporewala, Palyrma Unbuilt, Syria
The 2000-year-old Temple of Baal has been tragically destroyed in the recent Syrian conflict. Here, Singporewala creates his homage to the UNESCO World Heritage site, hand-made from 3000 1:100 scale architectural figures.
- Francis Martin, Sun, Sand, Sea and Savagery
Whilst Martin’s sculpture may appear playful, its underlying message is far from it. The work endeavours to expose the corruption and misguided philosophies at large in the world today; particularly our reliance on crude oil, and the impact of plastic waste on the environment.
- Richard Howell, Gangland Reliquaries
Taking his inspiration from found objects and materials, Howell’s experimental practice is both aesthetically pleasing and ambiguous. The title, Gangland Reliquaries, prompts the viewer to imagine the individuals who once owned and discarded these scraps of ephemera.
- Richard Twose, Self Portrait as Icarus
The myth of Icarus is one of the most culturally referenced stories of old. It resurfaces time and again as an illustration of humankind’s tragic overreaching. Twose’s broad, defiant brushstrokes give the painting an instability and wonderful dynamism.
- Andrew Munoz RWA, Still-life (Severn Bridge)
Winner of The Painting Award, Munoz’s still-life evokes associations of beached whales and discarded bodies. Whatever the visceral blob may be, its organic form beautifully contrasts the mechanical outline of the famous Severn Bridge.
- Juraj Pradaj, SS Great Britain, Bristol
There is something appealingly self-reflexive about Pradaj’s watercolour image of Brunel’s iconic ship painted straight onto a chunk of old reclaimed wood. Sat on a wooden board rather than a neatly framed canvas also imbues the painting with a visual and textual reminder of the ruggedness and tumult of its subject matter.
- Stephen Carley, Drawing Number 58
Tentative and abstract forms echo the work of Albert Gleizes, and Carley’s largely monochrome palette removes the distraction of colour and, like sensory deprivation on a person, heightens other aspects of the work like line, shape, and composition.
- Lynne Collins, The Trespasser 3
Collins’ photograph is a masterclass in light and composition. The red grapes and wine draw the eye across the scene, as do the beautiful folds on the tablecloth. The tall windows– and the light cast on the opposite wall– then lead the viewer’s eye back into the unsettling chiaruscuro of the almost ethereal archway, where darkness engulfs form.
- Dominic Mallin and Laura McEwen, Grand Pier, Weston-Super-Mare
At once playful and nostalgic, Mallin and McEwen’s layered collage is reminiscent of a theatre set. Combining photographs and paper cutouts to achieve an impressive sense of depth, anyone familiar with Weston’s Grand Pier will be instantly transported back to childhood memories of soggy chips and slot machines.
RWA 164 runs until 27th November at the Royal West of England Academy on Queens Road.
What did you think of #RWA164? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us your highlights @EpigramArts, @Ed_Grimble, or @Myla_Lloyd