The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition ǀ Exhibition review
Now in its 245th year, the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is an annual event eagerly anticipated by many of London’s art enthusiasts. The exhibition is the world’s largest open submission show, where pieces by newcomers are displayed, side by side, with works by artists of international renown. The works by members of the public have been carefully chosen from over 10,000 entries by a committee of Royal Academicians. The selection process is rigorous and is televised each year in a documentary for the BBC.
This year’s exhibition once again features an eclectic range of pieces, with galleries dedicated to portraits, architecture and photography. Upon approaching the Royal Academy, visitors are greeted by a stunning wall hanging by the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, which covers the external facade of Burlington House. Also adorning the courtyard are two site specific stone pieces, Ukraine and Settlement by John Maine RA, the latter of which gives weary visitors a place to sit and rest.
With contributions by so many talented artists it’s difficult to choose just a few to mention, however, one room attracting a large amount of attention is Grayson Perry RA’s gallery where his series of six large-scale tapestries The Variety of Small Differences is hung. The tapestries, inspired by William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, are the outcome of the project documented in In the Best Possible Taste (2012), a three part series in which Perry travelled around Britain meeting people from different class backgrounds. The tapestries capture, with both humour and tragedy, different lifestyles – from boy racers and karaoke singers in an old mining town to the bourgeoisie middle class who live with all the latest gadgets in a trendy part of Kent.
Other established artists with particularly eye-catching works in the show include Richard Wilson RA and Jeremy Camp RA, whose series of small floral oil paintings are reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites, but with a more contemporary feel.
A trip to the summer exhibition is always a delight for any art lover, and with pieces starting at just £25 visitors might find themselves taking a small part of it home.
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is at the Royal Academy of Arts until 18th August 2013. For further information or to book visit the gallery’s website here.