It’s never been more important to show contemporary art

The 119th annual exhibition of the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) takes place this week and it looks like being a standout lineup of contemporary artists.  

It also represents an increasingly rare opportunity for many contemporary artists to exhibit their work.

This year’s exhibition includes pieces by established artists from across the world alongside up and coming new artists, including invited graduates from Scotland’s principal art schools across a range of media: installation, video, computer and performance art, which are set alongside a strong core of works in traditional media resulting in a challenging and invigorating show. 

It’s refreshing to see such a major exhibition of new contemporary art in a city where just last week we heard of the demise of one of Edinburgh’s biggest contemporary art venues, Inverleith House.  

It’s widely recognised that it’s increasingly difficult for new artists to find opportunities to exhibit, something that’s crucial to developing their careers and of course, continuing to grow contemporary art.

The SSA has long aimed to represent adventurous work from Scotland and further afield with exhibitions including the work of the Post Impressionists, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse and Van Gogh in 1913.  In 1922 the Society presented work by Picasso, Daumier, Degas and Forain. In 1931, the Society showed, for the first time in the UK, twelve canvases by the then highly controversial Edvard Munch who went on to become a member of the Society.

But the SSA also continues today in the spirit of its founders, to show the controversial and the unexpected and to give hanging space to new artists of promise.  It also regularly exhibits work from artists drawn from many areas overseas.  In an art-world where the divide between new genres and traditional media has rarely been wider, the SSA plays a unique and vital role in bridging the gap.

This year the SSA’s mission to promote and encourage experimentation and the adventurous spirit in contemporary art means that international artist Bettina Hutschek will be seen in a UK premiere in advance of her participation at 2017 Venice Biennale.   Her film will be set alongside less established artists like Anya Gleizer who will present a Bacchanalian procession through the streets of Edinburgh in Dionysus Lives and dance performances by Michael Popper, an accomplished director, choreographer, musician, actor and dancer.  There’s a stunning piece presented in partnership with New Media Scotland by artists ~In the Fields. This artwork is a device that has taken live data relating to each of the 15 locks on Argyll’s Crinan Canal, creating a kinetic parametric architectural structure in response, as well as Forgotten Lives by recent graduate, Will Vernon, a series of photographs focusing on people living with dementia. 

The SSA’s mission to promote and encourage experimentation and the adventurous spirit in contemporary art has never been more important. 

The SSA Annual Exhibition runs at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from 31st October to 24th November 2016 and is free to enter.


For more information on the SSA and exhibition see here.

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