DEGREE Shows are a battleground for the heart and the mind. Much as I love the maelstrom of creative energy which goes with seeing over a hundred individual exhibitions in a short space of time, I always end up feeling like I've been in a mental punch-up when I stumble out into the daylight.

But yhis week I found an actual battleground at the Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) School of Fine Art degree show in an installation created by Sarah McClintock. Two life sized figures, clad in multicoloured but paint-spattered armour, stand guard over a roped off circle. Half the circle is black, and half is white. A simple half-black, half-white flag provides a backdrop. A short film, The McClintock Duel, plays on a loop. This "fight" took place last month in the very space we're looking at it.

A vigorous "performative painting" spat between The Black Knight and the White Knight shows one throwing white paint while the other throws black. There's a nice symmetry to it all and I've even been reliving the battle thanks to the wonders of Vimeo, wondering why it pleases me so much.

Could it be that The McClintock Duel is throwing a joyful punch at the claim GSA is not producing real painters any more? (Of which more below…)

This is the second year that students graduating from the GSA's School of Fine Art have exhibited in the Tontine Building in Trongate. Temporarily displaced into the third and fourth floor of the former offices of Glasgow Life, following the fire which swept through art school's famous Mackintosh Building two years ago, 107 students are showing work in this space for one week only.

The disciplines covered by the School of Fine Art include Fine Art Photography, Painting and Printmaking and Sculpture and Environmental Art, but you will find them fusing at every turn. Few works are just painting or photography or sculpture. This year, there are 12 performance-based works, as opposed to three last year.

However the poster image for GSA's degree show is an actual painting. Georgina Clapham’s Ideal Portrait of A Man is beautiful. I remember seeing the subject, a transgender woman with hair the colour of spun gold, take part in a fashion show at GSA earlier this year. If ever anyone cried out to be painted it was she. A contemporary response to the Renaissance ideal of beauty, it works.

Another painter worth seeking out is Sigita Morkunaite, who mixes up text-based mirrored panels with oil painting to create an almost unbearable lightness of being in seemingly sombre subject matter.

In contrast to previous years in which dystopia dominated the landscape, I found a lot of levity on show. It's also a very touchy-feely degree show.

Samuel Burton has created a series of sculptural works based around rearing chickens, including a canvas consisting of layers of paint which peeks through even more layers of soft downy feathers.

I loved Catriona Thomson's small pictures made of brightly coloured geometric cardboard shapes set on perspex. Abstract with a sculptural quality, you found yourself ascribing a form to each and every one.

As a gift to anyone who thinks that art students are just taking the piss, urine features in at least three shows. Beatrice Johansson's contemporary riff on Duchamp's Fountain even contains a tiny plastic urinal atop a stack of Waitrose toilet paper inside a golden shopping trolley. The trolley sits on a golden carpet while on one side a mattress protector has the words "tax free" stitched into it in Burberry fabric. On the other side there's a placard featuring hundreds of tiny Union Jacks in a repeated pattern. Into this she has stitched the words "United Estates". Elsewhere, Megan Roberts has even made a cake using urine.

There's a vivid, almost heightened sense of colour and reality on show, as though the virtual world is inching into the real world – which of course it is.

Rebecca Lindsmyr has created a hospital of sorts, with powder blue floor and ultra-white walls. She has made paintings for the floor and for the walls on which she has painted hospital scrubs, disposable slipperettes, a perfectly-made hospital bed and functional bedside chairs. Electrifying in its clinical perfection.

Louisa Livingstone has made a kitchen which would not look out-of-place in a CBBC series, with line paintings of colanders, little ceramic pears and sort-of but not-quite wooden chairs. I also liked Polly Johnston's floor-to-ceiling coloured boards which almost bleed and drip their colour into the floor, becoming part of the building – solid yet loose.

Nadia Shackleton-Jones has actually reclaimed a floor from an old school to create a mindful space which even has a personalised marble yoga plinth with her own bottom and feet imprinted into it. Sarah Rilsager has distorted the natural world with some blue sky thinking in the form of a swathe of silk digitally enhanced with puffy white clouds and blue sky hanging from the ceiling and rippling onto the floor.

Rosie Giblin has used her personal experience of working in refugee camps in to present two very different but devastatingly complimentary works. The first is a large joyfully garish 1970s-style hoarding advertising the very real Snack Shack Community Kitchen. The other is ethereally beautiful wooden canoe, with an off-white lacy dress fringed with dirt at the hem acting as a sail.

There is a lot of film work to enjoy. but my favourite is Rachael Simpson's thirty minute-long My Dad Shot Liberty Valance set in her own home-made cinema, complete with red velour cinema seating. Inspired by John Ford's fable-like 1962 Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, she has dubbed her father's (Scots) voice over James Stewart's distinctive tones. Recreating a key section of the film, which deals with how the truth becomes distorted (the Jimmy Stewart character believes he has killed the notorious villain), it merges fact, fiction, truth and perception.

It that isn't art, I don't know what is.

Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2016, Fine Art is at the Tontine Building, Trongate, Glasgow until Saturday June 25