If you want to buy a picture or a piece of sculpture and have lots of money or not very much, or if you just want to look at more than 450 contemporary works, then the Mall Galleries is the place to go. For some 20 years the Discerning Eye charity has held an annual exhibition of work by invited artists, plus contributions from an open submission, selected by a panel of six — two artists, two collectors and two critics. The charity’s aim is to encourage a wider understanding of the visual arts — an aim that surely no one can disagree with — and the commission it charges on sales helps to fund study bursaries.
The exhibition, sponsored by ING, which also awards a couple of prizes, is unusual not just because only small works can be submitted but also because they are not chosen by committee: each selector is given his/her wall on which to hang their choices, so the six have their personal tastes on show for all to see — there’s no hiding place.
Work by established artists may hang alongside that of those who have never exhibited before, with abstract bumping into figurative, landscapes nudging portraits, collages abutting screenprints… This year, artists include Eileen Hogan, our own Andrew Lambirth and Morag Ballard (see her ‘Notation’, 2012, above).
With so much terrific art on display, this exhibition clearly can’t be missed. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Why? Because this year I am one of the selectors.