Every year the Royal Academy opens its doors to the wider art community and lets them submit works of art for their summer exhibition. This attracts over 11,000 entries annually and these are then whittled down to just over a thousand to go on display.
The issue that the Royal Academy faces every year is how to cram all of these works into the space available. Once again, the exhibition does feel overcrowded and the larger, brighter works catch the eye and tend to overshadow the subtler pieces. It’s understandable given that this is a commercial show and they are trying to market as many artists as possible, but less could have been more.
The central hall and its homage to Matisse’s The Red Studio sucks you in to the exhibition with its bright red walls. And the choice of displaying some of the brighter works in this room ensures that the decor doesn’t detract from the art. The established stalwarts tend to outshine the other exhibitors with an excellent textured landscape from Anselm Kiefer and many eye-catching works by David Mach – the wire hanger leopard being a personal favourite.
The new and upcoming artists featured are a little disappointing compared to last year’s crop. However, Annie Morris’ clothes peg portraits and Olu Shobowale’s take on wealth in waste, by producing a throne cum altar made of chicken bones and sawdust, are worthy additions.
The architecture room is once again a highlight, while the addition of a video room is a novel idea that will hopefully be maintained from here on in.
Overall, the level of quality could have been better but there are still hidden gems to be discovered and most of the art is available for purchase if you spot that one in a thousand that appeals to you.
The Summer Exhibition is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts until 12 August. Tickets are £11.50 for adults, concessions available.