Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016 visit
On a hot summers Monday morning I was surprised to find its busy in the Royal Academy Summer exhibition. There’s a buzz going on….earnest groups discussing the paintings, school children having fun exclaiming at the prices. This year the curator is Richard Wilson RA, who has invited artistic pairs to exhibit, alongside the works of RA members and the lucky artists who have made it through three rounds of a panel.
From an open call of 12,000 drawings, paintings, collage, photographs and sculpture it is pared down to a mere thousand.
At first glance the mass of paintings seems chaotic but on closer look, I found each room is individually curated and there is often a coherence in the theme. It’s hard to know where to start so I walk round quickly seeing what catches my eye.
I like this painting by David Remfrey RA. The woman is in an intriguing pose, why is she looking down? She has no trunk, I imagine it from the white space. Most of my attention is on her face and legs. One hand is missing, like she’s fading out. The title is ‘It begins again’ but what does? Going to a club? Working as bar maid? Is she pregnant?
Pink Flats 2 by Jock Mcfadyen RA intrigued me. These deserted insipid pink flats have the smell of decay. Even the graffiti looks worn and tired. It lacks life apart from nature reclaiming it. Then surprise! A little figure is standing at the corner of a roof, hands in pockets surveying the scene. It looks post apocalyptic, like he’s the only survivor. What’s he doing there?
What the hell is thing? A deer, hare, human hybrid?? It’s standing in the desert, no clue from its surroundings. No clue from Lesley O’Mara’s title of ‘O.K’. It’s not looking at us, it looks quite relaxed. Even though this painting had the misfortune of being hung quite high, it still caught my eye.
There’s so many paintings here, its like picking out a voice from the static…overwhelming at first, but then you start to follow the signal. I walked round three times and saw something new every time. There really is something for everyone….abstract, figurative, even a delightful vase of flowers.
It made me think, what didn’t I like in there? I picked out one painting, unassuming black swirls on a brown ground. But then I looked at the title of Emma Tod’s work ‘Airstrike, Kobani’ and suddenly I’m pulled into a clinical mass of debris, swirling dust and bodies. Damn my imagination, I couldn’t dislike this anymore.So the prize for the painting I don’t like goes to Peter Leggett’s ‘Lost at sea [homage to freedom]’. Sorry Paul, but that title couldn’t take me into your matt black rectangle…although stitching it into the mount is quite cool.
I entered this competition last year, and didn’t even get through the first round. Having looked round for the first time this year, what tips do I have to get through? Really I still have no idea! The curator has an idea of themes, but there was such a variety here, it’s difficult to see what theme could have guaranteed me a ticket. I would recommend going to see it, there’s enough famous names [Gilbert and George, Tracey Emin] mixed in with the unknowns. Who knows if I will have inspiration for next year?