The New Contemporaries of the Scottish art scene
- Susan Mansfield
- 4 April 2018
The RSA brings together the best emerging artists from the 2017 degree shows
It might just be Scotland's biggest, most creative jigsaw puzzle: how to fit the work of 63 emerging artists, chosen from the 2017 degree shows at all five art schools, into the Royal Scottish Academy building, wire it all up (sculptures with electronic moving parts being a feature this year) and get it all working in time for opening night.
With this in mind, the RSA has done a superb job, and made some bold choices: one sees Hannah Mooney's exquisite traditional paintings across a vista of Millie Layton's wacky, brightly coloured sculptures; Alexandra Roddan's big paintings sit next to the Juanita Zaldua's tiny ones, both exploring aspects of the urban experience.
One of the striking things about this show is the enthusiasm with which emerging artists are embracing the traditional: painters such as David Rae, evoking derelict buildings and empty sports fields; sculptor and printmaker Rhona Jack, who built herself a working loom after developing an interest in the clothing industry and William Braithwaite's concrete and steel sculptures referencing Escher-like architecture.
Photographers are strong: Craig Waddell's images form a kind of composite portrait of the queer community; Matthew Buick photographs spectators staring at animals in zoos and taking selfies in front of the Mona Lisa. Fiona Steel's thoughtful black-and-white pictures probe deep into a remote landscape. There are also some stand-out films, notably Jamie Edmundson's portrait of a spiritual healer on the island of Berneray and Glen Thomson's tongue-in-cheek drama, 'Ties'.
And there are plenty of students working conceptually across a range of media: Amy Grogan's cheerful dancing vegetables stand out here as they did at her degree show, Anna Kajos offers an explosion of colour, textures, objects, while Marion Miranda, in her witty wall drawings, turns attention back on the art world and those who partake of it. Colourful and kaleidoscopic, New Contemporaries captures a new generation of artists in rude health.
RSA New Contemporaries, RSA, Until April 18.