On Monday, I took the opportunity of a day off to visit the Royal Academy's annual showcase, the Summer Exhibition. This event is the result of artists, some famous and others completely unknown, submitting their work, and a panel of judges selecting who to display.
This is the second time I've been. It should have been the third but last year, assuming that it was still on, I arrived to discover I was one day late! It is an amazing event, like none other, with 1266 different exhibits of all styles and media: painting, print, photo, sculpture, architectural model, even audio video!
The theme for this year is 'Making Space', and while this may have been the inspiration, with that many works, it was hardly the reality and there was the usual mass of paintings reaching to the ceiling in some of the halls. Actually the theme is meant to allude to making space as in giving freedom, but again, the Summer Exhibition is hardly noted for its previous constraint.
The experience is a bit like going into a bazaar. It's wonderful but then after an hour and a half, I start to suffer from visual overload. There were some exciting works, by better known artists such as Damian Hirst, Anthony Gormley, Tracey Emin, and John Hoyland, as well as some equally exciting works by artists I'd never heard of and I guess few others had. It was a special joy to see, tucked away on a top row, a painting by Louis Turpin, an artist who lived down the road from us in Rye. The vibrancy of the colours he uses is unique and he stands out a mile.
You can buy the paintings, some hugely expensive, some more modest, and although I was tempted, they were still a bit out of my price range. Nice thought though!