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Royal Academy | Summer Exhibition 2017

Royal Academy | Summer Exhibition 2017

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Royal Academy of Arts | Ends August 2017 | £14.00


The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition is upon us once again for it's 249th edition. The world's oldest open-submissions exhibition has run uninterrupted since it's very first show in 1768 & continues to provide an interesting insight into the present day art scene. Anyone can submit a piece of art for inclusion in the show as artists, established & emerging, are placed on an even platform to entertain the public.


Royal Academicans curate this annual art event as pop artist Michael Craig-Martin RA (2015 curation) & sculptor/Installation artist Richard Wilson RA (2016 curation) hand over to painter/printmaker Eileen Cooper RA for this year's curation. A total of 1,200 works have been shortlisted from 12,000 applicants on display.


The Summer exhibition calls for a different kind of viewing experience.  As the usually pondered examination of each individual painting is replaced by a restless hunt to pick out any hidden treasures amongst the sheer volume & abundance of art competing for your attention. The same walls usually reserved for grandiose paintings derived somewhere between old master & established mainstream (Rubens, to Monet, to Matisse) are suddenly adorned with up to 40 paintings fighting for the same space. 


Let's just pause & consider the challenge presented to the curators of these annual shows. The above mentioned major artists have been displayed individually, or amongst likened artists with similar styles. This show features 1,200 works from approximately 1,000 artists who all created their shortlisted work completely independent of theme, influence, narrative. Therefore connecting these works from an initial batch of 12,000 must be the most agonising pleasure in the art calendar.


We see a more global selection in comparison to recent years' tendency to focus on the European art scene. This makes for some interesting inclusions. Countries such as the Democratic republic of Congo, Peru, India & Kurdistan are represented here. 


The Courtyard leading to the exhibition fulfils the familiar role of Maitre d' as British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare's flamboyant wind sculpture flaps as the centrepiece beckoning us inside. Shonibare reappears as a curator at a later stage as Cooper assigns a room to express his own curating skills. He uses this to inject an African vibe to proceedings.


Another room, by Rebecca Slater, is committed to abstract art featuring a large painting by Sean Scully RA, Vanessa Jackson RA, Ian Davenport (Turner Prize nominee) and Tess Jaray RA. All notable for their close association to the art establishment.


Room curated by Rebecca Slater featuring Sean Scully, far wall.


To put things into perspective of the 1,091 works on display a whopping 493 are by those connected to the Gallery. This, though, is an open-submission, for anyone to feature regardless of age, education, contacts etc... So who are the finds of this year's show? Toby Saville, Nik Pollard, Deborah Westmancoat, Julian Sharples, Daniel Diaz-Tai, Susan Absolon all measured up against the Royal Academicans. 


Other points of interest; 

  • neon sign of the words “And I said I Love You!” by Tracey Emin
  • Wolfgang Tillmans - fresh from his recent major exhibition at the Tate Modern. , Anish Kapoor
  • Alana Francis - supplies the very first inclusion of a performance piece. Friday night performances.
  • new photography series by provocateurs Gilbert and George
  • All the work in the show is for sale, with the proceeds going towards the RA schools programme

More to Follow....


'Toby Saville'


'Nik Pollard'


'Deborah Westmancoat'


'Julian Sharples'


'Daniel Diaz-Tai'


'Susan Absolon'


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