Summer Exhibition – Royal Academy

So I finally managed to get round to going to the summer exhibition on its last day, the upshot of which is I managed to snag a catalogue at 80% off RRP. For anyone who hasn’t been it’s an amazingly eclectic mishmash of modern art with well over a thousand pieces crammed together in 14 rooms, clashing new and established artists. To start with I’ll be frank, there were quite a few pieces about animals/pets, and hazy impressionist paintings. As pretty as these might be they invoke no real emotion and I was left wondering if this was really the place for them any more, lost amongst the more eye-catching bizarre pieces.

Yet again Ms Emin raised her ugly head with an exorbitantly expensive piece entitled ‘upset’ really the less said about it the better, but suffice to say it followed her usual predictable vein of childish drawing with vague scrawled word. The other established artists however were more encouraging with their contributions. For example David Nash’s affectionately named piece ‘hump with a hole’  is very appealing with its tactile delicate charcoal like texture just drawing you in.

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A couple of pieces I really like where Norman Ackroyd’s etching entitled ‘Roareim – Flannan’ and Robin Lee-Hall’s ‘The Clever Young Man’, two artists I’d never encountered before. Ackroyd’s striking coastal landscape really displays his skill and experience as a printmaker, from personal experience I know what a struggle it can be to create such fluidity throughout the print. Born in Leeds in 1938,  Ackroyd has established himself as leading artist in his field receiving a C.B.E in 2007 for services to engraving and printing.

Hall’s image is captivating for quite different reason’s it’s almost an artwork with an artwork, if that makes sense. The technique used to make the image is so enticing in itself that it draws you in as much as the blank expression on the young man’s face. Robin Lee-Hall uses the historical medium of egg tempera, which involves mixing egg yolk and powered pigment to create paint, giving an incandescent effect throughout her work.

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Anselm Kiefer’s ‘Samson’ is a worthy winner of the ‘most distinguished work’ award, it is hard to express the presence this work has when your faced with it. When I first saw a picture of it in the news before visiting the exhibition I had mixed feelings, although it presented itself as a worthy subject matter it didn’t seem like a particularly enlightening portrayal. However the mountainous textures although not original are quite extraordinary, with paint inches thick in places. Also somehow the gun and carved words really work to invoke emotion towards the conflicts this region has faced throughout history.

Unfortunately the exhibition has ended now, I’m sure the key pieces will be on display at different venues throughout the rest of the year and I look forward to what next year’s show has to offer.

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