Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999, Steel, 35 ft in height, Tate Modern, London. Courtesy of louisebourgeois.yolasite.com
Christopher Le Brun, CAN'T OR WON'T?, painting, oil, 220 x 440 x 5 cm
Cy Twombly, Untitled (from Blooming. A Scattering of Blossoms & Other Things), 2007. Photo: EFE / Luis Tejido
El Anatsui, BLOOD OF SWEAT, aluminium And Copper Wire, 330 x 280 x 2 cm
Matthew Darbyshire CAPTCHA NO.11 (DORYPHOROS), Multiwall Polycarbonate And Stainless Steel, 235 x 75 x 75 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £12,000 Availability: Sold
Lisa Milroy, ONE-TO-ONE, Acrylic On Hand-Sewn Fabric, Hand-Painted Gloves, Wood, Clay, Coat Hanger And Nail, 185 x 70 x 170 cm
Kate Malone, MONUMENTAL ATOMIC JAR, Crystalline-Glazed Stoneware, 103 x 72 x 72 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £19,500 Availability: For sale
Stephen Cox FIGURE EMERGING: APPLE TREE YARD, STUDY, Jaisalmer Sandstone, 28 x 27 x 5 cm Exhibited Artwork: £10,000 Availability: For sale
Venus of Willendorf, 28,000-25,000 BCE, Oolitic limestone, 4,4 inches. 11,1 cm, Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria.
Damien Ortega, Untitled, 2015.
The late Geoffrey Clarke LANDSCAPE REINVESTIGATION, BLUEPRINT IV, Aluminium, 117 x 30.7 x 23 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £22,000 Availability: For sale
Parviz Tanavoli, Heech in a cage, bronze sculpture. Courtesy of the British Museum.
Emily Allchurch BABEL LONDON (AFTER BRUEGEL), Photograph Edition, Transparency On LED Lightbox, 125 x 149 x 8 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £10,200 Availability: For sale Edition: £10,200 Availability: 7 remaining
Derek Boshier REIGNING APPS AND BLOGS, Acrylic, 183 x 122 x 3 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £18,000 Availability: For sale
Michael Craig-Martin UNTITLED (WATCH), Acrylic On Aluminium, 250 x 250 x 5 cm
Tess Jaray THORNS, Work On Panel, 24 x 29 x 2 cm. Exhibited Artwork: £6,000 Availability: Sold
Elise Ansel FEAST OF THE GODS II, AFTER BELLINI AND TITIAN, Oil, 122 x 152 x 4 cm/ Exhibited Artwork: £12,000 Availability: Sold
The RA Summer Show has a long history. Running for 247 years; it has showcased newcomers and established artists from Turner to Constable back in their days. Anyone can submit their work to be presented in the Summer Show. Every piece is chosen by a committee of selected artists, and all works you see are (usually) for sale. You find fresh art school graduates to retired creatives alike. The setting is unique as well: high decorated ceilings, marble and gold; each room is 18th century Rococo royal refinery meets bright pink and neon yellow young London Pop.
As usual, I’ve tried to categorize and spots trends. A lot of the trends spotted at Frieze 2015 were found here. I encountered a problem though. The Summer Show might be a commercial exhibition, but as it takes place in an educational setting (The Academy is after all an Academy), the show is heavily curated. Spotting trends would just lead to a list of every room’s titles. Here is however a rundown of works which caught my eye, in order of presentation. Sorry if any of these are already sold. That’s the thing with art: if you have the means, snatch a piece you love right away because the good ones are always gone first!
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
1) Mega geometrical sculpture
Spider? Well not really, this piece is much more rectangular. But the scale and medium of the two are similar, and leave the same impression of small beingness to the viewers.
2) Cy Twombly look-a-like
How similar are these two paintings?
Yes, my point exactly.
3) El Anatsui
Yay, you made it here too! I’ve literally seen this guy’s work in Abu Dhabi, Armory and Frieze in just a year. He follows the art circuit at the speed of light.
4) New Media Art
This is a stunning piece. Why? I love how artists right now are exploring how to do sculpture with post-technologic materials. No more marble, no more metal, no more wood. We need and want 3D printing and special effect plastic!
PS: This is not sacarstic. If I had the money, I would invest in these kinds of pieces. Their value will increase in the near future, trust me.
Let me remind (or teach) you that ceramics were heavily used in the Islamic World, which ranged at one point from South of Spain to the Chinese border. Figurative canvas painting is essentially a European tradition. Arts of the Islamic and Indian Worlds are strong in works on paper (manuscripts, calligraphy, miniature paintings), in gold and metalwork, in jewelry and in ceramics. We all know how skilled Chinese were at ceramics: Chinese porcelain vases have been well known and appraised in the West for centuries. But Iznik pottery, Qajar and Kutahya tiles, or jade Mughal bowls… I’ll let you discover these if you haven’t already.
We need more artists today, wherever they might come from, to work on ceramics. There’s a huge heritage and global visual inspiration to draw from as well as frontiers to be broke (see my review of Yeesookyung's deconstructed-reconstructed porcelain pieces at the Armory Show 2015).
6) Constructed found objects
Read my trend review of 'Found Objects', seen at Frieze 2015. This idea that meaning in art is not derived from the object itself, but from its relationship to its viewers and the space where it sits, is fundamental to 21st century artmaking.
A new addition seen at the RA Summer Exhibitions: using clothes as found objects. Well we are afterall in London, one of the most, if not the most, fashion forward city worldwide.
7) ‘Found’ antiquity
This is a new concept I’ve also seen lying around the art world lately. Replacing copies of antique sculpture and stones in the Contemporary Art gallery space is a huge trend. Perhaps re-appropriating antique artefacts after they have faded from popular taste to European art historical movements from the Renaissance to Impressionism, is the new cool. Seen also at Frieze 2015: Damien Ortega re-appropriating the famous Venus of Willendorf, coined the first female nude sculpture of history (circa 28,000-25,000 B.C.).
8) Smooth solid marble podiums
Yes, these sculptures emerging from smooth rectangular podiums have been explored by many many artists, usually coming from the Middle East. I’m thinking about Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli.
9) Medieval realism
Well the RA Summer Show had a lot of crappy paintings and prints, let's be honest. This print is kind of interesting, a neo-liberal-we’re-all-equal-but-we’re-not kind of Pisa Tower. "The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock" reads a sign in the middle. In general, the painting rooms in this show made me realize that painting as we know it might be dead. Abstration is déja-vu, realism is boring, constructivism has been re-done and re-done & surrealism looks cheap if it’s not Dali. The only hope are paintings that deal with technology or paintings that have a three dimensional aspect to them.
10) Post-technology art
Posters about poster-making: reproducible art about reproducibility. I love the simplicity of vibrant computer engineered posters or paintings. Maybe this is what 'fine painting' has turned into: a cheap looking neon posters celebrating the advance of technology. Well at least this kind of style is relevant, has never been seen before and deals with the current state of global economy (and the stress it puts on us.. I mean how stressful would it be to look at a supersized wristwatch everyday, reminding you how late you constantly are? A no-no for me at least). Or a Warholian copy style put this time on probably the most famous photograph of photography's history: Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother".
11) My favourite piece of the show
Yes, to wrap up this article, please find my absolute favourite piece of the show. If I had to take one item home with me from the 2015 RA Summer Exhibition, it would be Elise Ansel's 'Feast of the Gods II, after Bellini and Titian'.
A celebration of Old Masters, of Titian and Bellini, of themes found throughout Western art history: bathers in an enclave protected by trees and rocks. Gods, or human sinners, or both, play around in this Abstract Expressionist re-interpretation. Contrasting primary colors with such a classical theme is beautiful yet sparks some feeling of disgust. Kind of like watching the Teletubbies when you are too old to watch them: you realize you threw away your innocence and youth to empty and deranging visuals, as attractive as they may have seemed.
The colors are point on, the themes point on: this is a beautifully decorative and powerful piece. Bravo Ansel. And at £12,000, you could do a lot worse damage going to any of of the surrounding Mayfair galleries.