Arturo Di Stefano
David Gluck RWS RE NEAC
Anna Somers Cocks
Seventh Exhibition – shown at two venues this year
On behalf of the Board of Directors, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this year's Discerning Eye exhibition. I am particularly honoured to do so for the first time as Chairman of Discerning Eye, and would like to begin this introduction by paying tribute to my predecessor Wilf Weeks for his contribution.
Once again we have been fortunate to secure the services of a notable panel of selectors drawn from the ranks of critics, collectors and artists themselves.
My thanks go to Anna Somers Cocks, Richard Kendall, Rosalind Savill, Philip Solomon, Arturo Di Stefano and David Gluck for their support, and, at times, for their grace under pressure.
For a second year we have benefitted from generous sponsorship from ABN AMRO whose support this year extends beyond the exhibition itself to include the donation of our first and second prizes. The continued commitment of ABN AMRO to the Discerning Eye, and to our aims and ambitions, is much appreciated.
I would like to thank my fellow directors, whose support has made my first year's chair of the Discerning Eye so memorable, and recognise the contribution of many others, including, most notably, the Arts Club for their generous hospitality and Emma Parker and Penelope Harris, who have made this year's exhibition possible. And I would like to thank the many artists who submitted work for inclusion in this year's exhibition. Please remember that what you see on display today is but a sample of the many excellent submissions offered to the Discerning Eye for inclusion in this year's exhibition.
Finally, I would like to thank you for visiting this year's exhibition. The Discerning Eye affords a unique opportunity to enjoy the work of some of our most talented, but unknown, artists, alongside that of our more renowned talents. I hope you will find the experience an enriching one.
ABN AMRO Hoare Govett
ABN AMRO Bank is one of the world's leading financial institutions. It has its headquarters in Amsterdam and, as a universal bank, it has offices in 71 countries around the globe. Its investment banking activities operate under the ABN AMRO brand name providing equity, corporate finance, fixed income, treasury, structured finance, private equity and asset management products to our clients. These include the leading international and domestic companies, institutional money managers, insurance companies, pension funds and mutual funds.
ABN AMRO has a pre-eminent position in the European markets, which has provided a platform for the investment bank to build a first class reputation in other parts of the world. Our success derives from our understanding of the capital markets which we view from a local, regional and global perspective, and from the contribution made by the 9,000 highly skilled individuals who work within our international investment banking business.
ABN AMRO is very pleased to sponsor the Discerning Eye Exhibition. Our sponsorship reflects our commitment to support and encourage cultural and social events.
Selector Profile: Arturo Di Stefano
The invited artists who have kindly agreed to show in the Discerning Eye Exhibition were chosen for the simplest of reasons. Firstly I admire their work and secondly, to bring together such a disparate group of artists under one roof was irresistible. Although my decisions of choice of artists are partial I hope that the context in which they are seen will be disinterested; rather like the prospect of different herds of exotic animals on the plain.
Selector Profile: David Gluck
I am constantly reminded that the boundaries and definitions of fine art are continually challenged and are in a state of flux. The speculative and diverse nature of fine art has intrigued and interested me from my student days.
Over many years, my teaching in major art schools, exhibiting individually and in several art societies members' shows, has without doubt brought me into contact with thousands of artists. The Open Section also provided a vast number of works for consideration. How, as a Discerning Eye Selector could I make a coherent show drawn from these artists and the works from the Open Section?
I decided to bring together works that reflected my catholic tastes in fine art and my fascination with how artists arrive at different ways of expression. Inevitably many good artists could not be included.
In the main I chose artists with very different ways of seeing. Some respond directly to what they see around them, while others develop ideas and conceptualise from innumerable standpoints. In making my selection I looked for works which provoked a strong subjective response, made a powerful personal statement and were also successfully resolved at the small-scale limit required for the exhibition.
A broad cross-section of approaches, in a wide variety of media, gives my section its own particular flavour. As a printmaker my knowledge of the print world enabled me to include a significant body of prints and print-related pieces.
Several students and artists with limited exhibition exposure were accepted and they have the opportunity to show alongside well-established artists in a major London gallery.
I hope that my section goes some way towards showing the richness of current fine art practice and that my selection is an enjoyable one.
Selector Profile: Rosalind Savill
The Discerning Eye has enabled me to realise a dream. I have always longed to begin a collection of works of art that thrill me by reflecting, in a new way, my love of early French porcelain, and of those that teasingly recall events or people in my life.
The great royal factory of Sevres, so brilliantly represented in the Wallace Collection, was an inspirational innovator in eighteenth-century Europe. I long to be reminded of its ravishing creamy-white porcelain body, its tangible sculpture and its vibrant decorative qualities, so I have included those artists whose work in ceramics, stone, glass, metal, resin and even modelled paper seem to me to have invented contemporary ways of continuing the earlier novelty I so admire.
It fascinates me to see how the same image can be reinvented when it is created in different materials.
This occurred when paintings and sculpture were interpreted at Sevres and it continues today, though my desire to select exactly the same model in varying guises was often quizzically regarded by the artists themselves. Perhaps it pigeonholes me as a decorative arts curator rather than as a creative artist.
I also wanted to represent those artists working at Sevres today because they reveal how the factory has never ceased to be an innovative force while still using largely traditional materials and techniques. Lastly I include some personal reminders of my passion for the Wallace Collection, for doves and for my daughter. These tend to be represented by the paintings in my group, with the artists in the open selection providing some unintentional but wonderful connections for me.
My dream selection is shamelessly subjective, but perhaps the works of art will also inspire you. The special magic for so many of them is how tactile they are; each has its own shape, texture and temperature and is glorious to hold. They are as rewarding to the discerning hand as they are to the discerning eye.
Selector Profile: Philip Solomon
When I was approached by Michael Reynolds to be a selector for this year's Discerning Eye - I felt very honoured.
Having had galleries in London and Dublin, I wanted to present work from talented artists who, in many cases, had not been seen before in London. Therefore, as well as works by established artists like Robbie Wraith and Antony Williams, I have included in my selection works by artists from the UK, Ireland, Spain and Russia.
I hope the Public will enjoy viewing the work and perhaps in some cases become collectors for the first time.
Selector Profile: Anna Somers Cocks
All my invited section is of photographs. This is not in the tradition of the Discerning Eye, which exists to encourage painters, but while I will energetically defend the right of anyone to work in any medium or style if it gives them pleasure, I am afraid that I find much of what is produced in painting today is very obviously at the tail-end of a tradition.
Good photography is actually closer in its effect and role to painting in its hey-day. Its subject matter moves, persuades and documents (just think of Don McCullen's war reportage). The artist struggles with innovation and when successful, makes us see anew. And photography can be beautiful.
It is not so much that photography has made painting irrelevant, but that ever since it was invented, it has pushed painting into every possible kind of experimentation, and it is now extraordinarily difficult to do anything in that medium that has any power to beguile, interest or move.
Selector Profile: Richard Kendall
London is one of the finest centres for visual art in the world, but it is - and always has been - rather self-absorbed. If you are a talented young painter living in Cornwall or Lincolnshire or the North West of England, it is still a daily battle to find serious audiences for your work, let alone sell enough to make a meagre living.
More than half the individuals in my section come from the Manchester area, which is also my home, where they survive as professional artists by supplementing their income through teaching or part-time jobs and a degree of frugality that puts their metropolitan cousins to shame. But they are all utterly serious about their art and it has been a deep and continual pleasure to watch their work mature over the years. This is real painting, not necessarily fashionable or streetwise, but full of belief in the making of delicate, teasing and intelligent images about human perception and shared experience.
My remaining choices are perhaps challenging in different ways, ranging from a Degas-like printmaker to a conjurer with masking tape, a master of the boxed fragment and a transcendent cityscapist. If some of them play at the edges of painting, each offers delights for the eye and the mind, and each is worthy of our sustained and respectful attention.