It would be a pity not to note, very quickly, what a stunning building the reopened RHA now has in Ely Place, Dublin. The building seems to have lost its vagueness, in terms of the spaces, and it all seems to flow well. Hard to judge definitively, though – there were so many people there yesterday at the launch of the Annual Exhibition. There is an extraordinary challenge for an artist, though, in tackling the main gallery space; it is huge, and now uninterrupted by the stairwell that was once at one end. Ciarán Lennon is scheduled as first up to give it a go.
What of the work in the RHA show? There’s lots of it, and the standard feels very high. I was a bit shocked (as a painter) to see how photography stood out. Pack lots of paintings together (as they do in the current show), and you get a bit blinded by all the gesture and brushstroke. In contrast, the photographs, also packed together, had a stillness about them; they also managed to be more self-contained.