Emerging art always needs a voice. And a place to be heard. Such a place for new Scottish artists is currently at the Royal Scottish Academy. Having recently held a Monet, Turner & Van Gogh exhibition they’re not in bad company.
Pretty much every avenue of contemporary art has been covered. There’s an artist to fill every genre and medium. It can be overwhelming in size and scope.
Taking in the richness of ideas and vitality of the artwork it what impresses me the most. There’s a level of skill and determination seeping out of the room’s offerings. From impressively vibrant sculpture, gestural abstract paintings, huge-scale installations to niche, highly detailed portraits.
Clare Connor’s lo-fi cardboard lobbying posters make statements about the recent Independence Referendum referring to post-statements, overheard snippets of conversation and her own life experiences to form a rhetoric of cultural analysis. Conscious of current affairs and political encounters her art forms a unique insight into the state of modern Scotland.
So how do we articulate ideas and the artists process. When artists have a problematic relationship with written words they often turn to the immediacy of the visual language. James Howden Boyle uses bronze metal in Really Hard to convey meaning. Attacking areas of tension in the public realm with a sense of humour. The potential anarchic ability of popular culture and video games arrives neatly to a finish when combined with the traditional practice of sculptural casting.
Another source of visual language also transpires in the work by Lucy Wayman. The experience of viewing her mammoth sculptural piece is completely visceral. An ordinary material such as a mop is transformed when brought into an unfamiliar territory and re-configured. The artist plays with material constraints, contrasts and form to create an emotive tension in the weight and knots of the piece which is allied to her awareness of social order and chaos.
Pictoral and digital spaces collide with the swipe and gestures made by Grace Woodcock. Her beautifully made tech-swipes betray the slickness of a pristine screen – illustrating the relationship between man and the digital interface through the manual action of painting.
Georgina Chapman’s seemingly formulaic perfect historical portraits belies a more formative subject. Her skilled and convincing portraits are of her contemporaries, choreographed stage set-ups crossing ancient myths with modern fashion. Painting her friends from the LGBTQ+ community in an attempt to re-define what gender means today, evoking historical fashion trends where men and women’s Renaissance fashion were more closely intertwined. Showing a need for greater recognition of gender fluidity in our generation.
Following the traces of mankind, Simona Stojanovska’s paintings looks at the shapes and structures we make and their place within the environment. She celebrates the tactile and textural nature of paint and other materials to convey her ideas about harmony. What are the impacts of these manmade interactions and intersections in the natural.
The rebellious and playful work by Lena Phalen brings an emphatic reaction to the concept of imagination. The physical nature of her sculpture, paintings and paper collage are a jumble of experiences, ideas, emotions and reactions all solidified together. Its an intuitive process – she doesn’t strive towards a pre-conceived direction but lets the making lead the way.
Another artist transposing the literal to engage both the eye and mind is Tamara Richardson. The soaring, silver, shimmering sheets of plastic provide a visual reminder of the illusion of reflection and the necessity to decode and interpret what we see to determine a sense of reality. Her own reflection makes her wonder at her place in the world. It can be sensed that its these thoughts along with selected materials which create the overall perception.
Therefore the total unity of the RSA New Contemporaries show can be gifted the term of a fluid community looking towards local and worldly assignations. They continue to evoke ideas of identity, evolution and technology using their newly acquired graduate skills.
|Eleanor Elks Herrmannsen|
|Anna Wallace Reid|
|Megan Hampton (centre front)|
|Kristian Jack Thomassen|
|James Howden Boyle|
*This blog has been put together with the help of referencing the show guide ‘RSA:NC’*
The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture
Edinburgh, EH2 2EL