JAMES CUMMING RSA: SYMBOLS OF THE MIND

Opening Times:
Monday 10 - 5pm or by appointment: call 0131 225 3922 or speak to the RSA gallery team. ADMISSION FREE. RSA Friends Room.

JAMES CUMMING RSA: SYMBOLS OF THE MIND

Opening Times:
Monday 10 - 5pm or by appointment: call 0131 225 3922 or speak to the RSA gallery team. ADMISSION FREE. RSA Friends Room.

 

FEATURING WINNING WORKS BY EMERGING ARTISTS FROM THE JAMES CUMMING AWARD FOR DRAUGHTSMANSHIP 1995 – 2015

In 2006 the Royal Scottish Academy received one of its most significant gifts from the family of James Cumming RSA. In keeping with the unique living nature of the RSA collections, the gift comprised finished paintings, studies, sketchbooks, studio objects and archival material, which together offer an unprecedented insight into the work, processes and mind of the artist.

I’m only interested in the truth of reality, and I must employ amnesia in order to discover it…If I don’t forget all that I’ve done then everything I do hence-forth will be based on one matrix of thought…To trace different aspects of the truth and compose them in order to discover precisely your vision is my aim and always has been my aim.

James Cumming (1922-1991) was without doubt one of the most talented painters and original artists practising in Scotland in the 20th century. He created highly individual work that was beautiful and expertly imagined with an unbelievably fine finish of surface. His technical knowledge and skill were unsurpassed; his paintings are in the same perfect condition now as they were when they left his easel half a century ago.

As a young artist he developed trademark figures, far away from civilisation on the Isle of Lewis, before turning his mind to a personal abstraction that grew from the origins of life, symbols and microbiology. The meeting of colour and line, of geometry, structure and mutation were all deep concerns that flowed through his work, while within his still lifes he developed his own Post-Cubist style that created fascinating distillations of objects in pictorial space.

There is no Scottish artist that compares with James Cumming and this exhibition celebrates his last twenty years by bringing to light works from the artist’s studio that have never been seen before. Most notably the exhibition features studies and new research into Cumming’s late mural master work, Community: A Festival of Time, at the Low Port Centre in Linlithgow. Like his paintings the mural remains pristine and is freely accessible today.

The James Cumming Award for Draughtsmanship 1995 – 2015
Before the gift to the collections, the Cumming family created a lasting legacy with the RSA in the form of an award for emerging artists. As an artist and teacher, draughtsmanship was of prime importance to Cumming and the Award for draughtsmanship in his name has led to the development of a unique collection of emerging artists’ work in the collections. The display in the Friends Corridor celebrates 20 years since the first award drawing entered the collections.

RSA Friends’ Room and Corridor
Lower Galleries
RSA Building
The Mound
Edinburgh
EH2 2EL