Thursday, 9 June 2011

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2011

A bit of a jolly today with a trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2011 and here is a short review.

This is a show not to be missed !! if you really like looking at well painted technically excellent beautiful works of art then DON'T GO !! Whilst there are some lovely pictures and sculptures, as a whole it is an example of what is wrong with 
contemporary British Art and for that reason it should not be missed !!

The exhibition is best summarised by Tess Jaray RA who hung one of the galleries; it is “only for people who are sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful. No one else will enjoy it”. Oh so true.

The galleries were full of vast brightly coloured canvases that would probably have felt more at home in the atrium of a second rate casino or shopping centre. So over powering were some of these rooms that it was easy to miss the excellent pictures hidden in plain sight. The Ken Howard's were lovely, but I wonder whether they would have been selected if he wasn't already an RA.

The works in the courtyard were of differing styles, both beautifully made. There was a large coloured squiggle which was a little dwarfed by the space titled Colouring Book by Jeff Koons and the other was the Singer-Sargeant-esque memorial statue title the Rainbow Division Memorial by James Butler RA.

Pablo Picasso once remarked that “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child” one must wonder whether some exhibitors got confused and applied the alternative version of “It took me four years to paint like a child, but a lifetime to paint like a Picasso”

Sorry about the rant but I was very disappointed. It was interesting to find that in one of the smaller galleries where the pictures by lesser known and amateurs artists are hung that about 90% had already sold ! and their subject ? generally fairly traditional oil paintings of landscapes, views, still life, dogs and a few portraits. Most beautifully painted and framed. There were some lovely printed works, I liked "White Dog" a photo etching by Max Marschner, "Daybreak" a woodcut by Martin Saull and "Campo" a woodcut by Adrian Bartlett. Not too many of my favourites this time, no Gail Brodholt linocuts or etchings from Roger Harris and the Helen Fay was a smaller scale work of a Penguin.

A readers, can see I appreciate traditional print methods, wood engraving, woodblocks, linocuts and etching in it's various forms. I am continually disappointed to see the proliferation of computer generated images and the rise of the ink jet print !! what has happened to the "original print" where the printing surface has been worked by the artist !! In years to come will I be trying to sell images by  Epsom Printers RA !!

There was an excellent sculpture of a man on fire in Iraq by Tim Shaw titled What God of Love Inspires Such Hate in the Hearts of Men; disturbing but thought provoking. However, he was placed such that he was running straight towards and a mechanical rubber dog with his head in a rubbish bin, an exhibit I just found disturbing.

A little too much art for art's sake !

Never mind - all soon forgotten especially after a few good lunch and a few glasses of wine. And then !! on to the Antiques and Fine Art Fairs at Olympia. It was the first day and quite busy which has to be good. Spoke to a few friends and colleagues who are exhibiting and generally the feedback was encouraging with some good early sales. These are beautiful exhibitions with rare and beautiful works of art for sale, with frightening price tags !! well worth a visit, there are plenty of free tickets around, better value than the RA.
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