By Chrissie Walker
This, for lovers of art, is a calendar event and just as important as Wimbledon Tennis, Chelsea Flower Show or Ascot horse races. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is a tradition and it has been for 250 years. One doesn’t have to dress up, but it’s is an event at which to be seen in London.
Each summer the walls of the galleries are hung with contemporary works made by internationally respected artists, along with new talent looking for that big break. This year, flamboyant Grayson Perry RA and his committee of fellow artists have selected over 1,300 artworks covering every genre.
At the entrance one is met with a huge sculpture by Anish Kapoor, and inside one finds fresh inspiration from David Hockney RA and Joana Vasconcelos. There will be work from your favourite artists, perhaps, and they might be hung alongside an unknown but emerging talent.
As with every exhibition, one’s personal taste is not taken into account; this one pushes the envelope and might even shock. Yes, there is nudity and a few body parts. These galleries might not be for the classically minded, but at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition there are not only challenges but a great deal of humour, too. There is an enormous textile work entitled Royal Valkyrie by the aforementioned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, which hangs in huge glory in the middle of the Central Hall. This suspended mammoth must use just about every knitting, sewing, tapestry craft known to man/woman.
I have several favourites from this year’s exhibition. First must be the Red Bear by Debbie Lawson. This exhibit has now been sold but it hangs until the end of the exhibition. One could describe this as a bear rug. It is actually a life-sized bear emerging from a Turkish rug, and the bear is also made from the rug – very well executed, and drole too.
Another exhibit which might raise a few eyebrows, and particularly those of monarchists, is a bust of Her Majesty by John Humphreys. The three-dimensional head of The Queen in painted fibreglass is of immense proportions and rather distorted. One’s mind tries to adjust the image to fit the expected norm. This rather reminds me of the princess in Shrek!
And talking of princesses, there is another royal connection to this exhibition. A few minutes’ walk away is a restaurant called Le Caprice. One might remember that this was Princess Diana’s favourite restaurant. They are offering a dining package which includes a meal at Le Caprice along with a ticket for the exhibition. It’s an iconic restaurant, and a day combining a lunch here and a stroll around the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is a delight.
The Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts runs until 19th August 2018.
Daily 10am till 6pm
Friday 10am till 10pm
Burlington House entrance
London W1J 0BD
20 Arlington Street
Read more articles by Chrissie Walker here http://www.mostlyfood.co.uk