Win 5 original paintings, plus free exhibition posters

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The Summer Exhibition, mounted by the Royal Academy of Arts every summer in Piccadilly, is the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world, held in association with Guinness PLC. It brings together a wide range of work by painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, many of them already distinguished and others exhibiting for the first time.

For those intimidated by the thought of tackling "serious art", the sheer variety of the exhibits at the Summer Exhibition ensures that something will fire your enthusiasm. For those intimidated by the price tags attached to many of the pieces, there is some very good news. You could end up owning one without paying a penny.

We have selected five outstanding paintings as prizes in our Summer Exhibition draw, each an excellent example of the artist's style. And for every reader who enters our prize draw there will be a free original exhibition poster. We have also arranged for readers to obtain two tickets to the Summer Exhibition for the price of one.

To be in with a chance of winning one of the five prize paintings, you will have to collect 10 differently numbered tokens which we will publish in the Independent and Independent On Sunday. Today we publish Tokens 1 and 2, an entry form will be printed at the end of the promotion. All five paintings are pictured here, with biographical notes and comments from Iain Gale.

Both original exhibition posters feature works by Royal Academicians - The Matisse Jug is by Mary Fedden and Beyond The Eye, I is by Victor Pasmore. All those who enter the prize draw by collecting 10 differently numbered tokens and sending them in along with the entry form will receive one of the posters of their choice just for the cost of 36p return postage.

The exhibition is open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm and full-price tickets cost pounds 4.80 but by presenting a copy of the Independent during the period of this promotion and published on the day you wish to visit, you will receive two tickets for the price of one. When our promotion closes you can obtain concessionary tickets for the remainder of the exbition at pounds 3.50.

Later this week we will give you details of how you can attend masterclasses held by distinguished Royal Academicians and also special breakfast viewings.

From the Terrace 7.4.95

acrylic, 30in x 24in.

JOHN HOYLAND (b 1934)

Educ: Sheffield College of Art 1956-60

RA 1960

Elected RA 1983

Works in the Tate Gallery and other public collections

Hoyland is one of the grand old men of British abstraction. Having achieved prominence in the Situation exhibitions of the early Sixties, he has gone on to develop an idiosyncratic style of colourful expressionism. Hoyland handles his paint with a distinctive calligraphy, often applying his colour directly from the tube. His inspiration might be a specific place; perhaps, as here, a view; but equally well it could be an attempt to capture the essence of something as intangible as a season, or the rising sun.

BARBARA RAE (b 1943)

Educ: Edinburgh College of Art 1961-65

Elected ARSA 1980

Elected President The Society of Scottish Artists 1983

Elected RSA 1992

Works in The British Museum, Birmingham City Art Gallery and other collections

Barbara Rae is one of the most interesting artists to have come out of Scotland in the last thirty years. While her work is specifically tied to the North-West of Scotland, her concerns are more universal. She does not intend to represent the landscape topographically, rather to bring to the viewer an understanding of the effect of man upon the natural world. Rae's images are essentially ambiguous. The stratae of this painting might represent the structures which have accrued over the centuries on the shore of its title. But they could just as well represent the geological formation of the land itself - a physical representation of the passing of time. It is just such uncertainties which imbue Rae's work with its peculiar mystery and haunting sense of power.

Leighton Hall, 21st July

oil, 44in x 62in.

ADRIAN BERG (b 1929)

Educ: St Martin's, Chelsea and RCA 1956-61

Elected RA 1992

Works in the Tate Gallery,

Arts Council Collection, Leeds City

Art Gallery and other public collections

A distinguished landscape artist, Berg is particularly well known for his paintings of gardens, not only of and near his native London but also further afield and abroad. Noted for his bold use of colour, Berg has work in 45 public and corporate collections.

Here is a classic example of his work - a view of the grounds at Leighton Hall, titled and dated, as always, with the time and place of its creation. With vivid colour and intense pattern Berg offers us not merely a depiction of the landscape but a powerful evocation of nature as an actual, physical experience.

Design for Christmas Card, Tate Gallery 1992

oil, 12in x l0in.

CRAIGIE AITCHISON (b 1926)

Educ: Slade School of Art 1952-54

Elected ARA 1978

Elected RA 1988

Works in Tate Gallery, Arts Council Collection and other public collections

This one simple image might be said to embody all the essential elements of Aitchison's art. With translucent colour in a subtle pastel palette, the artist depicts his leitmotif of the bird, having it perch on "Adam's tree" from which, according to tradition, the wood came to make the cross on which Christ died. Beneath lies the figure of the infant Christ with, beside him another of the artist's trademarks - an inquisitive Bedlington terrier. As the annunciatory star twinkles above, the Christ child is blessed by a beam of divine light. A unique figure among contemporary artists in his continued devotion to such traditional Christian iconography, Aitchison consistently transcends the literal and manages to communicate the spiritual essence of his subject.

JOHN BELLANY (b 1942)

Educ: Edinburgh College of Art 1960-5

RCA 1965-8

Elected RA 1986

Awarded CBE 1994

Works in the Tate Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and other public collections

Bellany paints in the Expressionist tradition, with a particular admiration for Dix and Beckmann. This is a typical example of his recent work, less tortured than the New Realism with which he made his name in the sixties, and firmly in the Scottish narrative tradition. His portrait of Mary Swanston is, characteristically, set against the backdrop of a Scottish East coast fishing village. To emphasise the feeling of unease engendered by her cat-like stare, the artist introduces the figure of the suspender-clad girl peering around the wall, suggesting perhaps that there is something to hide and declaring the basic truth that, ultimately, all portraits are masks.

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