RSA New Contemporaries 2020
- Susan Mansfield
- 24 February 2020
Unique opportunity to see some of the best emerging talent in Scotland
There's always a slightly anarchic vibe at New Contemporaries, when the majestic gallery spaces of the RSA teem with the work of recent graduates selected from last year's degree shows. This year, all four main colleges have a strong representation and the show has a sense of poise and authority.
If it's less noisy and kaleidoscope than previous years, that's partly because there are fewer audio-visual works, and much of the work fits broadly into the categories of painting, print-making and sculpture for which these galleries were made. Paintings, like those by Emma-Louise Grady, Sam Renson and Lynsey MacKenzie look great in these airy spaces.
Katherine Fay Allan's installation about gardening and medicine, inspired by her mother's cancer treatment, looks dazzling in the sculpture court, as do Hugo Harris's impressive wax casts of the body. However, the installations of Gabrielle Gillott explore the concept of doomsday prepping and yet they don't require room to breathe: she had to construct her own room to create the appropriate level of claustrophobia.
It's great to see artists who stood out in degree shows expanding their practices: Owen McLaughlin and Jodie Williamson, whose photography and film explore remnants of the past in the built environment; Alex Hayward's charming gay love story about the boy from the ballet; Kyle McGhee's wooden reliefs inspired by the floorplans of abandoned buildings.
There is evidence of a resurgence of craft, as there was at the degree shows, notably woven textiles by Brandon Logan and ceramics by Meabh Breathnach. Jin Wei presents another explosion of creative making, from drawing and metalwork to three-dimensional textile sculptures.
Really, one must visit at least twice. Once to take in the big, eye-catching works that grab the attention, and again to unearth the more subtle gems: Jasmine Regmi's paintings, inspired by her Nepalese background; Erica Paterson's prints about the life stories of her grandparents; Valentina Lauto's delicate fabrics, and a sculpture which quivers quietly to life when it senses your presence.
Royal Scottish Academy Galleries, until Tue 11 Mar.