The RDS Visual Art Awards, arguably the most important platform for emerging visual artists in Ireland, is partnering with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) for the first time in its history to showcase talent from across the country, including some incredible LGBTQ+ artists.
The RDS was established in 1731, and for nearly 300 years, the organisation has made a lasting impact on the Irish art community. The annual curated exhibition provides vital exposure for emerging visual artists by showcasing some of the most talented BA and MA art graduates in Ireland.
This year’s finalists include LGBTQ+ artists Nikolas Ryan, who is a working-class trans man and contemporary artist from NCAD’s Joint BA in Fine Art (Media) and Critical Cultures programme, and Ren Coffey, a gender-fluid artist and graduate of BA Fine Art at TU Dublin.
Nikolas uses digital media and interactive software technologies to examine the intersections of art, technology and social justice. His art investigates gendered social constructs and explores themes of religion, spirituality, Vietnamese culture and gender identity.
Ren is a multi-disciplinary artist who works with sound, sculpture and installation to create pieces using readily available building materials and electrical wiring. Their work examines how we characterise our audible surroundings through an interactive sonic installation.
Earlier this year, a team of independent curators reviewed the end-of-year degree shows in art colleges across the country and long-listed over 100 artists who were invited to apply for the 2023 RDS Visual Art Awards. From there, a panel of judges assessed and shortlisted 26 candidates before selecting the final 15 artists to be included in the exhibition.
The selected 15 artists are now invited to gain exposure by professionally presenting their work. Those selected are also eligible for one of five awards from a significant prize fund of over €35,000 to help launch their future art careers. Prizes include:
- The RDS Taylor Art Award (€10,000)
- R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award (€5,000)
- RDS Members’ Art Fund Award (€5,000)
- RHA Graduate Studio Award (€7,500 value)
- the RDS Mason Hayes & Curran LLP Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award, in Paris (€8,000 value).
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Last year, trans artist Venus Patel won the top prize for her experimental short film Eggshells which used performance, music, and dance to communicate her own experience with a hate crime. This year’s winners will be announced on December 7 during the opening night of the show.
The 2023 RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition will be held in the IMMA’s Main Gallery West Wing from December 8, 2023, through March 3, 2024. The exhibition space was designed by curator Elaine Hoey who was the recipient of the RDS Taylor Art Award in 2016.
Hoey will lead exhibition tours and talks during the exhibition. She said: “It is an honour to return to this exciting annual event to curate and represent 15 of Ireland’s most exceptional emerging visual artists. This year, The RDS Visual Arts Award Exhibition is hosted at the prestigious Irish Museum of Modern Art and promises a diverse and thought-provoking show. This exhibition is a celebration of creativity, a platform for nurturing emerging talent and a testament to the vibrant and evolving art scene in Ireland.”
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