The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh: The 193rd RSA Annual Exhibition


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Until 11th December

The Royal Scottish Academy annual exhibition is in its 193rd year. Nevertheless, it shows no signs of age or slowing down, rather the opposite. This annual exhibition offers a chance for a selection of media to be seen and appreciated alongside some of the most prized Scottish architects. Comprising contemporary painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and film, the charm of the annual Open Exhibition is the way in which works are submitted by contemporary artists at all stages of their career. This variety ensures a chance for exposure for a wide range of artists.

Set within the picturesque galleries of the Royal Scottish Academy, the works span two floors and are beautifully curated throughout. The use of the large galleries has meant that works of a greater scale can be exhibited; compared to recent years, this offers a wider scope for the academy. The RSA themselves say that, ‘it has evolved and changed, showcasing Scottish art alongside invited international artists and often including topical and political elements- giving an uncensored, independent voice to artists on issues which matter to them’.

This year’s showcase is a wonderfully eclectic mix, from huge scale oil on canvas works by Geoff Uglow, to delicate matchbox works from Jayne Stokes. The wide mixture of styles and mediums is testament to the thriving contemporary art scene in Scotland. By having the exhibition, it provides a space for these new works to be discovered. Not restricted to paintings, sculpture is also well represented, featuring works by Kenny Hunter and Kay Latto.

The great thing about the RSA Open Exhibition is that it is free of charge, ensuring accessibility to all. Whether you consider yourself an art lover or just fancy a weekend foray into Scottish art, the Open Exhibition is an opportunity to see the best of the contemporary art scene. It truly reflects our current society and the different ways in which people visualise the world around them. It is hugely important that contemporary artists, whether they be established Royal Academicians or first-time exhibitors, are displayed and appreciated. It is rare for such an eclectic mix to be seen together, with works ranging for sale from high end prices of £60,000 down to the more affordable £60; this presents a chance to purchase unique pieces of art, made particularly attainable by the Own Art scheme.

The Architecture Open is made up of scale models and hung work, displaying the talent of contemporary Scottish architects. Throughout the two rooms, the skill and ingenuity of the showcased architects are presented, offering an insight into the design and thought processes behind some of the latest marvels of modern architecture, such as The Borders Distillery building.

Overall, the exhibition is a great success. It showcases the very best of our creative society in Scotland, and it is one of the most approachable ways to enjoy art. Set in the historic Royal Academy, it is a highlight in their exhibition history and truly worth a visit.

The Mound,
Edinburgh EH2 2EL

With thanks to Leo Sartain for his review.

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