@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019 #RASummer @RoyalAcademy

    June 20th, 2019mardixonCulture, International

    The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is a difficult one to follow after the breaking numbers from last year which was curated by Grayson Perry on their 250th anniversary however I was impressed with the variety and diversity that Jock McFayden pulled together.  In fairness, last year RA opened their new building with a lot of free exhibition.  I feel I need to emphasise again: The RA is made by and run by artists – it doesn’t get government funding as many assume due to the Royal name. 

    The exhibition actually always starts outside in the courtyard which this year features Thomas Houseago and large sculptures that are a fantastic backdrop for the neoclassical RA building.  And it’s always great to see Joshua Reynolds statute used -this year he sports an arrangement of flowers garland.

    When you enter the exhibition, you’re provided with a booklet with the list of works but this year this is a fabulous website that compliments the booklet in which you can search a piece of art in (artists, artwork, medium or catalogue number) and it’ll bring the catalogue information up but also suggest other art you might like on that search: https://se.royalacademy.org.uk/

    Throughout my journey I used to spend time with the booklet, seeing what was expensive, what was the cost of a certain painting and just being nosy.  Now with the website I spend time taking notes with pen and paper on what I actually wanted to learn more about. What the material was, who was the artist, why it made it into the exhibition.

    When you walk into the exhibition you are immediately hit with vibrate colours in the collection and walls.  The beauty of the RA is it’s overwhelming which doesn’t always suit critics.  You need to go without storytelling and labels.  You receive the catalog and have a number on the wall and it’s up to you to decide on if research is worth more.  It’s probably why I always love it – I’m not one for boring labels.  I’d rather have none then an academic dissertation with a narrow narrative from one persons point of view.

    To the left from the entrance is a powerful statement from Banksy and Jock

    Keep OU.  It featured Banksy’s signature rat using the T for Keep Out to break a lock open.  It was used in a previous exhibition and brought back.

    The walls are colored light grey with the backdrop of so many pieces of art it is a little in your face but in the best way.  I personally love the organized chaos that RA Summer exhibition always presents. 

    The next room with lime green walls that hold three lovely pieces from Marcus Harvey (Napoleon Invictus , The Victory which is featured on the main catalogue and Full Nelson).  There is something really charming and yet powerful with these pieces.

    I found pieces throughout the exhibition where I took the number because if felt more intimidate to write the numbers down and take a picture (did I mentioned photos are allowed?) to give me more time to actually look at the art. 

    Then there is the room based around immigration, border control and protest which had powerful pieces including one which I originally couldn’t find the number for but the lovely room attendant helped me.  It is a pile of sandbags with crushed cola cans and yellow tape with swear words. From the website: (UnFucking Titled) Fucked Dove

    Nearby was a pair of sunglasses called Statue Fragment by artist Mark Wallinger (482) which reminded me of the news report of someone leaving a pair of glasses on the floor at the Met and others taking photos of it assuming it was contemporary art.

    There was something really whimsical about Amalia Pica (526) – Catachresis #84 Head of the Mop, Elbow of the Pipe and Neck of the Bottle which I adored.  Probably because most were walking by it!  

    Rachel Magdeburg’s Old new about the clipped passport which looked washed was also subtle but impressive.

    Within the RASummer exhibition there is always an architecture room and I must confess that I don’t relate to it at all but respect why it is there.  The art and creativity of architecture creations is truly beautiful but it’s just not for me and that’s ok!  We can’t all like everything and that’s ok!

    There is a small room off the Architecture room with 5 pieces around sublime atmospheric work including James Turrell Hon RA723 – MORS-SOMNUS (07), MEDIUM DIAMOND GLASS which stood out.

    Gallery VI – It was one of those rooms that wowed me as so many pieces but certain ones jumped out

    Timothy Hyman Milky Way is one of those pieces that spoke to me and even after a few hours I’m not sure why.  It’s like there is more to the story and I’m nosy!

    Same with Luca Padroni’s Personal Values

    John Davies is the most imposing piece in this gallery.  Ghosts is life size figures (approximately 14 of them) including a fallen angel, a man with a top hat holding a baby and a war time couple. 

    And the opposite is a black and white with splashes of colors art piece called The Wishing Tree from Peter Darach

    Anthony Green (RA) Mary and Her Mother Parkinsons – it’s two canvases that are autumn in color and from the front you have a rectangle cut out to see a portrait of an older lady.  The second canvas in back shows the older lady is actually in a wheelchair.  I had a lovely conversation with someone about the piece and they appreciated it but didn’t like the exposed back of the canvas.

    In Gallery VII I saw Karen Knorr The Queen’s Room, Zanana Udaipur City Palace and I’m not sure why I liked this painting, honestly it’s not something I usually like but there is something about the colors and the peacock that just drew me to in.

    Gallery VII

    Bob and Roberta Smith – love his passion in every single thing he does, from being an advocate to art in school to saving libraries and the signage on the wall states the importance of a piece ‘My son changed my Art’ (1354 ) which sets the tone for the room.

    I took notes for this room on the number of pieces I liked and honestly it’s the whole room – feel free to use the website to look them up: 1288, 1307, 1315-1318, 1344

    In Gallery VIII there are a lot of great pieces but the favorite and best piece ever is the clever Cornelia Parker (PA) 1396 Stolen Thunder (the Final) which if I had £750 would be the piece I would buy as have been following this piece last couple of years.  It’s art within art within art. Each showing it’s old catalog number (799, 924 and now 1396).  It’s the one I went into every room looking for and was so happy to see although really hoping it’s not the Final! )

    Gallery IX was brilliant because of the body positive of a few pieces including Ishbel Myerscough – Girl

    The Lecture Room – the first thing you notice when you walk in is FUN!  Then I read the signage and it mentioned ‘enthusiasm’ as you look at floating ships (suspended) https://se.royalacademy.org.uk/2019/artworks/hew-locke/1561

    And other random sculptures and pieces.  The thing that stood out for me was the lack of as much art on the walls but then the volume of conversations was turned up.  It was like the floating pieces gave people permission to talk which in every room you’re allowed to!

    Overall, once again I can highly recommend the #RASummer Exhibition. And while you’re there, don’t forget to see their free exhibitions!

    RA Summer Exhibition is on June 10 until August 12 2019. For ticket prices and more information, see their website.

    I was asked to review the show for TRT World (Turkey TV) which I did on the following day after seeing the show:

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