This years Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is its 245th . The Summer exhibition has always had its critics.  Perceived as  a bit of a pot boiler, with its mixture of professional and amateur artists somehow not quite good enough.

TSIATSIA by artist El Anatsui

TSIATSIA by artist El
Anatsui

This year’s exhibition is proof that this is no longer, if it ever were, the case. However this post shows some of the more witty, and amusing pieces of work, those that made me smile.

The exhibition is co-ordinated by Royal Academicians Printmaker Norman Ackroyd RA and Architect Eva Jiricna RA

The Charles Wollaston Award, with its £25,000 prize has been given this year to the West African artist El Anatsui for TSIATSIA – ‘searching for connections’ The work in question is made from a collection of discarded bottle tops, roofing sheets and printing plates. The piece measuring 15.6m x 25m hangs from the façade of Burlington House.

As Rachel Campbell- Johnston wrote in The Times.

“It’s the cultural equivalent of dressing the Lord High chancellor up in drag.”

A clever move has been to paint the architecture and sculpture room canary yellow. This works as a convincing back-drop to the mainly monochrome pieces, and shows them in their best light.  As it happens my favourite pieces in this room are Somerset House West wing a design by Eva Jiricna.

Somerset House West Wing by Eva Jiricna RA

Somerset House West Wing

In amongst the beautiful, the obscure, the painterly, the abstract and the photo realism: not to forget almost any twentieth century art movement you like to mention, there are some real gems. I love the humour to be found in many pieces of the work:

Cornelia Parker’s Stolen Thunder is a clever idea, a white canvas with a border of  ‘sold’ red dots.

The gentle whimsy in Cows in a Churchyard by the late Mary Fedden RA

Cows in a Churchyard by the late Mary Feddon RA

Cows in a Churchyard

The Princess has a pea by Chris Orr RA

The princess has a pea by Chris Orr

The princess has a pea by Chris Orr

Trouble in the Museum by Glen Baxter

Trouble in the museum by Glen Baxter

Trouble in the museum by Glen Baxter

‘It reminds me a little of an early Glen Baxter, drawn by a much more sophisticated hand” observed the deputy art critic 2011

Glen Baxter......art critic 2011

‘It reminds me a little of an early Glen Baxter, drawn by a much more sophisticated hand” observed the deputy art critic 2011

Inebriate Owl by Ivor Abrahams

ated Owl by Ivor Abrahams

Inebriate Owl by Ivor Abrahams

Metamorphosis by Margaret Barrett – a caterpillar constructed from wool and plastic bottles.

Metamorphosis by Margaret Barrett

Metamorphosis by Margaret Barrett

In one gallery a rabbit sits drawing a self portrait. apologies to the artist as I didn’t write down the details.

Rabbit drawing a self portrait

Rabbit drawing a self portrait

Anthony Green RA will always provide a smile with his brightly coloured, detailed paintings of family intimacy, painted onto odd shaped boards and canvas.

A head full of pictures by Anthony Green RA

A head full of pictures by Anthony Green RA

Painting his own shadow by Christopher Jonas

Painting his own shadow
by Christopher Jonas

Ursula with virgins by Liane Lang

Ursula with virgins by Liane Lan

One compelling reason for visiting the Summer Exhibition is given by President of the RA,  Christopher Le Brun,

“One of the founding principles of the Academy was to ‘mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit” to finance the training of young artists at the RA Schools. This has been held every year without interruption since 1769. The Royal Academy receives no public funding so each purchase made at the Summer Exhibition directly contributes to maintaining our free art school”

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 10th June -18th August 2013

 

 

 

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