• Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023

RSA Open

ByEleanor Marshall

Jan 11, 2016

Royal Scottish Academy: Until 14th February

The RSA Open is an annual event of small-scale work created by contemporary artists living or working in Scotland, judged by a panelists of RSA Academicians. The exhibition evokes the spirit of the Victorian salons; legions of artwork jostle for attention in the Neo-classical rooms on The Mound. Everything on display is for sale, a notion that perhaps gives a sense of accessibility in comparison to the more aloof exhibitions that usually occupy the National Gallery spaces.

Highlights found in the exhibition include the stark yet compositionally pleasing oil and enamel painting Monolith by Charlotte; its simplicity stood out amongst the loud chorus of artwork surrounding it. Equally bold is the painting Roman Church Blue Sky by Renny Tait, a delightfully kitsch postmodern take on classical architecture.

Additionally, Geoff Uglow’s Saltire and Union Jack is a textural and witty duo of oil paintings depicting Calton Hill, each rendered in the colours of the relative flags. It is plausible that they act as illusions to Edinburgh through the lens of alternate viewpoints in the independence debate. However, due to the volume of art on display it is guaranteed that each person will have a differing opinion of interpretation from the next.

A criticism of the exhibition is that the vast majority of work is art: apart from a few elevations and abstract plans there is not very much architecture on show. As for the overall curation of the exhibition, there is no theme in the way in which the artworks are displayed, although you may find yourself convinced that there is a theme present. There is a marvellous disregard for style, subject, medium or size, allowing the viewer’s eye to gravitate towards what attracts them the most. If the artworks could speak the exhibition would be a rowdy party of different personalities having hundreds of conversations, as there is over three hundred works on display.

It is hard to surmise the show; every conceivable medium is used from kinetic sculpture to human remains. Even the most disinterested person cannot walk through the exhibition without an artwork demanding a second glance. The show’s success is its uncompromising variety that can evoke numerous positive and negative reactions from a single wall. The RSA Open Exhibition is like a high-end department store for art with countless options and variety in varying prices, sizes and forms. There is, if it can be dared to be said, something for everyone.

Image: Robin Denton (Flickr)

By Eleanor Marshall

Eleanor Marshall is a 4th year Architecture student.

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