I was at the opening of the Royal Ulster Academy ( RUA ) Annual exhibition last night. I drove up to Belfast with a few friends, we each of us had a painting in it. It was on the top floor of the Ulster Museum, which is always a great place to visit.
My first impression was that the quality of the work on show was extremely high. It’s a much smaller show than the RHA Annual exhibition, or at least the space allocated for the work is much smaller. Like academy exhibitions in the past, the paintings here are hung close together, only inches separating one from the next. I would have preferred more white space, it would have been easier to view and appreciate the work. Maybe if they had been given more room in the museum… but there was another exhibition on the same floor, entitled: “The Queen, Art and Image”.
But anyway, there were paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, photography and architectural models. Technical skill very much in evidence. It’s very much the typical academy show, sometimes I wonder: all those exciting advances of the last century, the journey towards abstraction, the elevation of the concept, the new media, the new challenges – was it all a dream?
I was discussing with a friend about how there seemed to be two art worlds, (or at least two ) art worlds – one, the Academy world where the traditional skills are valued above all else and one, the Contemporary world where it seemed like ‘anything goes’. “Which world do you belong to?” asked my friend. I thought about it for a while and then I said: “Ye know, I have to say: Neither”
Here’s the painting that I had in the show …