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RWA 165th Annual Open Exhibition


  • RWA Queen’s Road, Clifton BS8 1PX England (map)

The 165th Annual exhibit at the RWA is in a space reminiscent of the big London museums with high ceilings, white walls and large rooms. The exhibit itself was diverse in nature; with pieces of all materials and techniques including photography, print, and oil painting, as well as a huge range in subject matter ranging from portraiture to landscape, to abstract. A lot of the works were similar to those on display at the Other Art Fair last month, and it works in a similar manner to that, where viewers of the exhibit can purchase works once the exhibit finishes. This kind of fast art really helps local, up and coming artists display and sell their pieces and makes it easy for viewers to become collectors.

As is usual for a more modern collection of art there was a large amount of abstract art. Although it is sometimes difficult to simply accept that not all art has a specific meaning or relation to the historical period or political happenings, it is refreshing to view art that is purely aesthetic and does not invite extra attention by viewers other than at the lines and colours of the work.

However, there were still artists who incorporated political messages into their work. This work caught my eye as it includes incredibly recent world-wide problems. 'Dump Trump' jumps out allowing the viewer to immediately resonate with the piece. The inclusion messages of hope and strength from around the world really capture the ongoing problems that still hit society even in recent times.

As well as the influence of politics on art, the influence of gender is still apparent in certain works, in particular this direct comparison between the genitalia of the sexes. The titles of the two works are Adam and Eve placed side by side representing the sexual act which supposedly created the rest of the human race. However, if examined separately the images do not appear sexualised in any way. The fact that the faces of the two first human beings have been omitted is significant as the artist is more focused on the different genitalia rather than the beauty/perfection of them.

From abstraction, to the influence of politics and gender, to landscape. Although supposedly one of the lesser genres throughout the majority of art history, the continuation of its proliferation highlights that it is indeed a respectable and diverse genre. Each of the images above are different in both style and content although I would still class them all as landscape images. This also proves again that not all art needs to depict a political message or having a specific point behind its creation. Art can exist as a purely aesthetic medium of expression. 

The fact that this is not a photograph amazes me. Artists throughout the early modern period, specifically the Renaissance were attempting as best as they could to represent nature exactly as it looked to the naked eye, and this is what this particular artist has achieved. The wrinkles around the eye and the lashes are painted with such precision and care. Perhaps Vasari was wrong when he predicted a fall in the quality of art after the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael. The end of the High Renaissance was not the end of the striving for realism.

This exhibit is free to all students and if you’re ever caught around the Triangle in the rain or need to clear your head and have some time to yourself, I would very much recommend giving it a visit. 

Miranda Smith

Later Event: October 2
Ice Road @ Jacob's Wells Baths