Visual Arts ; SOCIETY OF WOMEN ARTISTS Mall Galleries LONDON *
Glover, Michael, The Independent (London, England)
What a crowd of works we have here! More than 600 paintings in all, stacked up on every wall - two, three, even four deep, just like the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition in its heyday at Burlington House. And a fair number of sculptures, too, on plinths and in vitrines. But can the Society of Women Artists' annual exhibition rival the Royal Academy in quality, then or now? Sadly, no.
With a few notable exceptions, this is a dull, safe and tame show. There is much technical competence on display, but little evidence of daring, originality or of anything that might disturb, challenge or absorb. This is unexceptionable work, relentlessly easy on the eye and following much too well-trodden thematic paths. Much of it could have been painted at any time in the past 50 years. The watchword is a generic verisimilitude: painting the world exactly as you see it, as if there were some common way of seeing the world. So much of the work here feels like a tired pastiche of so much that has gone before, from 17th-century Dutch still life to Turner to Degas until about the time of the Post-Impressionists. …