The Royal Academies Summer Exhibition has become a staple of my calender not just because of its guaranteed varied display but because it ignites my lust for practicing art again.( I graduated in Fine Art but rarely find time to do any) .
The first piece you are confronted with is the large stainless steel statue by Jeff Koons. He has always had his opposers, and quite openly admits to championing the tasteless, kitsch or bad, but I’ve always rather enjoyed his plays on scale and texture, his clever use of materials and fascination with child friendly forms. The reflective quality of this particular piece was enhanced by its situation, being encased by the walls of the beautiful academy building, the classic architecture with its columns and mouldings is in great contrast to the modern vivid pristine finish that it reflects onto. This piece was delicious for me.. I quite literally wanted to lick it. You may not be thinking I a tad odd but I think it reminded me of the Zap lollies I adored as a child…. I digress.
This years show had a different feel for me and that was mainly due to how the curators had hung their rooms. It seemed more sparse than usual. While I usually enjoy a minimalist approach to galleries with their expanse of white walls this is not what I have come to aspect from this particular exhibition. I have always enjoyed the organized chaos of the rooms where work was stacked to the ceiling and you would find yourself scouring the walls for an innumerable amount of time and crooking your neck to see the tiny images unfairly placed metres up. The collection of work, depicting drastically different styles and topics would make for a collage that represents the talents of that years entrees, but this year it felt somewhat incomplete it some rooms.
In the lecture room Michael Craig Martin is showcasing work by famous Academicans, who are mainly women. Considering the women included and possible works that could be featured the rooms feels surprisingly safe. Jenny Saville’s Oil painting is typically uncompromising. Her work has always appealed since it’s inclusion on one of my first favourite bands, The Manic Street Preachers, Holy Bible album artwork. One of Fiona Raes instantly recognizable painting
looks typically fantastic against the blank backdrop.. I sadly felt the opposite of her small scale pieces I found in another room. Cornelia Parkers work must be hailed as the stand out piece of the room. ‘Endless Sugar’ consists of 30 pieces of silver plate that are apparently antique sugar bowls. They have all been flattened by a 250-ton press, and suspended several centimetres above the floor in a line. There something magical about the tension caused by the hovering nature of these glistening objects. The fact that you know the objects have a history and a story behind them and have been forced into another form adds another fascinating dimension.
I could ramble on for hours about the exhbibition and its vast catalogue of works but I’d rather you go and make up your own mind….but I will say that there is something for everyone here.. if you desire to see humour from ‘art’ the moving dog rooting in a bin ticks that box, if you want to be unsettled the wooden shed house which shows a machine gun darting from the net curtain will deliver, if you want to challenge what art is Martin Creeds totem of stacked chairs will do the job….
Let me know what you think!