Page 5, 8th May 1953

8th May 1953
Page 5
Page 5, 8th May 1953 — R.A. SHOW MAKES ROOM FOR CONTEMPORARY WAYS TOO
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Organisations: Royal College
Locations: Cardiff, Winchester, London

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R.A. SHOW MAKES ROOM FOR CONTEMPORARY WAYS TOO

By Iris Conlay ON the title page of the Academy catalogue. there appears eLich year a different quotation. If these mottoes are carefully studied they will be seen to reflect the diverse moods of the exhibitions they stand guardian over.

For, believe mc, although a wag is said to have boasted that be kept the same catalogue and used it each year. seeing no reason why he should ever buy a new erie, the mood of each Academy sanies to an astonishing degree from the last.

Here is this year's motto: "In reply to the question, What is Art?' it might be said jocosely (but this would not be a bad joke) that Art is what everyone knows it to be. (Beneder:o Croce.Y' What do you make of that one?

Placatory

I think it is Ijic justification of Gallery VI It which has discarded the academic manner—the kind of paintlog most people know to he art—for several kinds ot contemporary mantiers—the kinds of painting the rest of the people know to be art, it is a placatory and benign Academy that quotes Croce and hangs John Miiiton's threateningly in a g a I f I c c ii Morocco scenes; that buys for the Chantrey hcquc5t the most unChantrey-like group p o r t r a i t by Rodrigo Movnihan of the teaching staff of the Royal College.

Gallery VIII has more interesting things packed tightly in its small cornpass than are spread out across the rest of the area—a Matthew Smith nude. destined for the Chantrey vaults, too; two Tristrann Hillier dream-realistic landscapes; the rich est and fruitiest Ruskin Spear in the show; two nosta lgically romantic Card Weight scenes and a strange. remote and evocative work called 'Pool of Bethesda." by Arthur Taylor: as well as the dominating Mintons,

Four portriaits

A PART front Gallery VIII. f'Xthough, I would visit this year's Academy to see four brilliant pottraits : to see John Minton's Nevile Wallis. the crispest piece of description of a setting as well as the roan; Simon Elwes's wickedly witty Beechani, half clown, half philoso' pher; and Peter Greenham's brilliantly d r a in a t I c , yet spiendidy composed and dignified, Bishop of London, and also the late Bishop of Winchester.

inking the exhIbition as a whole, it would be difficult to say that it stimulated the imagination. 'Pleasure it may give; thought it hardly proyokes, Perhaps that is policy; then it 5.5 not surprising that religious subJecis are largely out. since they are pre eminently thought disturbing. Only Stanley Spencer can get away with it. This year his subject is the "Marriage at Cana." The miracle is not shown at all. only the news of it is transmitted from one frilly aproned and capped maid to another. The period is Victorian, the setting the kitchen. Somehow Christ in modern dress is less disturbing than the suggestion of Christ at a Victorian wedding p 1 u a Is, chandeliers arid champagne Ca frivolous wine) insplied.

Spencer's Victorianism is chaTlenged by 20th century Robert J. Steele. whose Christ. is a lonely tigure crawling along under the weight of the cross t h r 0 U g h Coastellatinin Street, past Prince Leopold Street, Cardiff. while the traffic rides behind. the brass hand blares in front. tradesmen gape from their shops. passersby pause with baskets poised. hut all are set in an indifferent mould, arid the strange and solitary }igure only rouses curiosity.




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