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Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2012
20 June 2012 by Nicky
by Molly Price-Owen
If you're longing for a cornucopia of pictures adorning the
walls and sculptures on the tables and floors then the Royal
Academy is the place to be. When artworks higgledy piggledy jostle
for position, then beat a path to the Royal Academy of Arts.
The Summer Exhibition, now in its 244th year,
continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and
established artists in all media including painting, sculpture,
photography, printmaking, architecture and film. Over 11,000
entries were received this year, with more than 1,400 being
accepted and now displayed.
It's the world's largest open submission contemporary art show,
with submissions from all over the planet.
You either absorb it with relish and delight, or view it with
doubt and derision. The array is, frankly, breath-taking.
Chris Wilkinson, RA, (Royal Academician) has designed an
engaging structure for the courtyard: "From landscape to Portrait"
twists a series of eleven wooden frames through ninety degrees
which incorporates innovative seating for visitors.
Inside, this year firstly pays homage to Matisse's "The Red
Studio". The chief concern of this gallery is colour, so it's
filled with works full of vibrancy and bright brilliant hues to
delight the eye. To see pictures by Philip Sutton, Frank Bowling,
Bernard Dunstan and the late John Hoyland is uplifting.
Gallery III, the grandest space usually given over to large
canvases, this year houses a quantity of smaller paintings, all
jockeying for position and your attention. One of the problems,
though, is it's so packed with works (over 550) you can't give each
of them your full attention. The art to which I was particularly
drawn was mostly by RA established members - Maurice Cockrill,
Anthony Whishaw, Bernard Dunstan, for example. But there's stuff
here like lines of pegs painted different colours, or nails
on a board their heads painted in various colours and many others
which give rise to such bafflement one wonders why they were
selected for the hang. That said, other works like "IBM
Thinkpad", "Songbirds", "News" and "Shades of Sunset" are worth a
Two rooms are given over to sculpture: the first one shows a
dialogue between photographs of buildings and balsawood models - a
nourishing view. The second room has a frustrating display of small
pieces which demonstrate little merit or originality… a hotch-potch
of material… there I met a well-known critic, who's renowned for
his candour and has no hesitation in not mincing his words: The
show? "Contemptible" he said "I find it all contemptible… this
(gallery) is like a jumble show at a village fete". Or a white
elephant stall in a bazaar.
So take your pick when you go there, enjoy the work of today's
artists; you might pick up a work by an emerging talent, - the
majority are for sale - and in years to come perhaps you'll own one
of the most sought-after pieces by one of the most revered artists
of the future.
The Summer exhibition continues at the Royal Academy in London
until 12th August. Click here for more information