RP 2014 Annual Exhibition

Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2014 catalogue

I’m not 100% sure how I came across the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries but I’m glad I did.

My only problem right now is that the day job is taking up most of my time. So a leisurely view of the work on show is out of the question. For now, I have the catalogue to keep me company. But there is no real substitute for seeing the works in the flesh.

I do hope I will be able to go before it closes on 23 May 2014.

16 MAY 2014 Managed to take time out this afternoon for a leisurely visit of the exhibition, which was the right thing to do. Taking a bit of time to consider each piece is the only way to do it justice. To me there is little point in rushing round the works on display.

I’m always amazed how the execution of a portrait can be so varied. From the materials used, to what to have as a background and even the shape of the piece. Viewing the work at the proportions that the artist intended is the raison d’être of an art gallery. The internet and publications can’t compare with being face to face.

Picking a favourite is a really difficult choice. Tamsin Greig by Matthew Garrard and Deryugina by Jonny Shaw stood out for me. The work of David Cobley was also of interest.

The more I think about it, the more I don’t really want to pick a favourite. Some of the work may have been commissioned by the sitter and if they are happy that is all that matters. And the other reason is that it really is an impossible task. If you get a chance to visit the gallery, you’ll know what I mean.

18 MAY 2014 I had no intention of commenting on the work Dr Victoria N. Bateman by Anthony Connolly that is on display at the exhibition. However, an article by Zoe Pilger has made me reassess this.

For those who may be reading this who didn’t get a chance to view the work at the Mall Galleries, the piece is of an unclothed sitter with a light blue background and is not quite life size in height. With one arm behind her back and the other by her side, nothing is hidden from view. The pattern of the background is interesting in that there is some perspective to it which reminds me of bathroom tiling.

In the catalogue and online, Victoria Bateman gives her reasons for the portrait. And at the time of writing, there are over 670 comments on Victoria’s reasoning, some of which agree with Zoe Pilger on the artistic merits of the work, i.e. that it is nothing new.

What is interesting is that an internet search for Dr Victoria N. Bateman brings up more articles about the painting than her work as an economist. Bearing in mind that the painting is a birthday gift for herself, there is no real reason why the work should please other people.

Also on display at the exhibition is a fully clothed Shirley Pearce, Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University by Alastair Adams, which appears to be on loan from that institution. Clearly this piece is for “work” purposes and Victoria’s piece is under the “personal” category. Two totally different types of commission.

I am grateful for Victoria Bateman allowing Anthony Connolly to submit this “personal” piece with his other pieces that made it into the exhibition. It could have been so easy for permission not to have been given.

I do wonder if a female artist would have executed the portrait in a different way. Another question for me is the significance of the plant/flower in the corner of the painting.