Annual Open Exhibition – The New English Art Club at Mall Galleries
Through the latest instalment of their annual show, The New English Art Club has once again delivered an exhibition of high calibre and huge scope.
The New English Art Club finds its origins in 1885, and was originally intended to form an artistic body alternative to the Royal Academy; it boasts such illustrious former members as John Singer Sargent and Walter Sickert. Whilst the waters separating the Academy from The Art Club may have been muddied recently, owing to increasing numbers of old Academicians becoming Art Club members, the original commitment to a focus on drawing from life and a focus on figurative art remain tenets fundamental to the institution.
The exhibition represents a wide range of themes and styles; topics covered range from the witty, such as Alan Kingsbury’s Coalition, to the strongly emotive, such as Eyjafjallajökull, by Sophia Rizvi. The curation does not progress through each artist sequentially, but takes you on a remarkable journey through textures, palettes and sizes.
Scattered amongst individual pieces, the various series, such as Anthony Green’s four piece work, give the exhibition a marvellous variety. The sheer quantity of works on display makes (perhaps unwanted) comparisons to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition almost inevitable. One striking aspect to this exhibition was the devotion to draughtsmanship, which evidently is strongly felt by the artists; the presence of pastel works and illustration being testament to this concept.
Arguably both the highlight and focus of the exhibition is the selected works of Margaret Thomas. Her contribution is inspiring, not perhaps in terms of sheer numbers of works displayed but as an homage to longevity, variety and consistent quality; a “robust, energetic” 95-year-old who still retains an irrepressible passion for painting, Thomas first exhibited in 1933 and her work remains fresh and relevant today.
This is a wonderful exhibition, and highlights a wealth of talent; the sheer quantity of works on show means there is something for everyone. The lovely surroundings of the New English Art Club and the vibrancy of the works make this a thoroughly enjoyable visit.
The Annual Open Exhibition 2012 is at the New English Art Club, 17 The Mall, SW1 until 9th December 2012. For further information visit the New English Art Club’s website here.