Graduate Shows London
Royal College of Art & Slade School of Fine Art

Issue no3
June - July 2020
Troebele waters

Naked people on three meter high shelves, landscapes of frozen food and noisy performances; it is always hard to distinguish the good from the bad in the chaos of the graduate show. There were however several highlights in the graduate shows of two of London’s best art schools.

Royal College of Art

The messy RCA interim show (14-22 May) did not promise much good for next year’s graduate show. However, first year MA painting student Frank Ammerlaan (Rietveld graduate and founder of the Service Garage in Amsterdam) shows beautiful dark paintings with embroidered geometrical patterns of golden thread. Standing out are the works by Sven Sachsalber, spread throughout the building. His black and white photos show the artist investigating the sculptural in the world around him; by imitating objects in space with his own body. His simple, poetic gestures are far more memorable than the fuss of the rest of the show.

At the even larger graduate show of the RCA (24 June – 4 July), the different departments are in different buildings, which results in a far more structured show. At the painting department, technical perfection can be found in Freya Wright’s painted film stills. Her uncanny paintings juxtapose the technological distance of film and the human touch of painting. A more minimal approach is seen in the abstract concrete sculptures and geometrical structure paintings of Ashley Rich.

In the sculpture building, Mark Davey shows interesting moving sculptures. Two iron arms, passing a strip light from one side to the other, is in this well executed case something to be looked at for a long time. The photographer Annett Reimer stands out with her self-portraits where she is always just partially present.

The Slade School of Fine Art

The Slade School of Fine Art has a very high level in presentation and quality of the student’s work in the MA show of this year (15 – 22 June). All artists get sufficient space to give their work the independency it needs, and in the case of Elaine Mullings this is quite a lot of space. Her beautiful installation of broken, folded car windows rises from the ground floor to above the mezzanine level. In the basement of the Slade building, another huge sculpture can be found, by Atsuko Nakamura. Consisting of pieces of waste wood, he created an eerie tree that creeps through the corners of the basement space. Not a lot of interesting painting could be seen at Slade, with the outstanding exception of Ali Kazim, who showed two very modest but beautifully executed water colours.

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 3 — 2020