Tuesday, 5 January 2021

A winter visit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2020

Colour notes | paper relief prints| Christopher Le Brun PPRA

Be grateful for small things.
That is my new motto. As more and more is taken away from us due to Covid-19, it is the little things that matter.

My other half (OH) and I have been holed up together for a very long time, and a chance to make a trip to London to see the Summer exhibition at the Royal Academy was a rare treat.

Our tickets had been previously cancelled due to lockdown, so this trip was all the more anticipated by our culture starved selves.

So on a rainy December Monday we crept up to London on the quiet mid day train, walked the empty streets of Picadilly, and made our way around the exhibition in our masks.

The first work that caught my eye was a collage.

Untitled | collage with paper pins | Frida Orupabo

Frida Orupabo is a Nigerian-Norwegian; one of several invited black artists on show.
I had to do some research to fully understand what Frida was trying to convey. According to her website;
'Frida Orupabo is a sociologist and artist living and working in Oslo, Norway. Her work consists of digital and physical collages in various forms, which explore questions related to race, family relations, gender, sexuality, violence and identity.'

Heavy stuff for starters. Race and politics. I had been attracted to it as I was thinking about collage, and how so much can be said with a few pieces of paper reaaranged on a page.

OH had already disappeared off to view the galleries at his own pace. Conscious that 'lunchtime' was the most important item on his agenda I resolved to move at a reasonable pace, and stop only at those works that really caught my eye.

Socially distanced viewing at the Royal Academy Summer exhibition 2020

It was a treat to have so much room to view.  The galleries never felt crowded, and I felt completely safe.

The fact that the following day we were thrown into Tier 4 made me realise how lucky we were to have made the trip.

Legs | photographs | Hans Peter Feldmann

Legs caught my eye next. No frame; just some photos stuck to the wall.

As a conceptual artist Hans-Peter sells similar works for $20,000, so he is doing something right. Further research about him led me to another work of his that confirmed a dry sense of humour; something I cannot resist...

Hans -Peter Feldmann | Pictures of car radios taken while good music was playing | 2004

In 2010 he won  the Guggenheim Hugo Boss art prize. He celebrated by pinning the £100,000 prize onto the gallery walls as 100,000 $1 notes, raising questions about the value of art.

It was good to see paintings by Fred Cuming from the Rye area and Camber Sands.
His work is immediately identifiable to me after getting to know it in local Rye galleries. He  visited my studio on an open studio visit a few years ago, and is a truly charming gentleman who has a way with clouds.....

Paintings by Fred Cuming RA

I particularly enjoyed his painting of a February peasmarsh landscape, with its low wintry light.

February landscape, Peasmarsh | Fred Cuming RA

I also fell in love with a series of works by Cornelia Parker RA. These were a series of polymer gravure etchings based on the shadows of simple objects such as flowers and household objects, captured on light senstive paper.

Jug full of shadows | Cornelia parker RA | 2020
OH had 'done' the show in the blink of any eye.

His favourite was a work ' where you can see what it is.....'

I have no problem with that. It seems a lot of other visitors felt the same way,

Fuen Seow Cheen | LOST WONDERS OF THE SEA | Etching

There were a lot of dogs and portraits.

My favourite portraits were pencil drawings of cardboard faces by Russell Herron.

I had to get really close to see that thses were drawings and not cardboard collages. Sadly all sold.

Cardboard portrait 12 | Russell Herron
Cardboard portrait 11 | Russell Herron

I was also taken with a dog portrait by Ilona Arndt. He had so much more character than the standard labrador poses.
Hund NR 2 | Ilona Arndt

But lunch was beckoning.... there was too much to take in, as always.

Too much to take in at the RA Summer Exhibition

Different galleries had very different characters.

I enjoyed this quiet monochrome corner.

But if I had been allowed to take one work home it would have been a newspaper boat made of stone.

A playful sculpture.

A reminder of childhood days spent by the sea. Dreams of adventure.

I forgot to record who made it, so apologies for that.

Looking at the Curator's selection I realise that there is so much work that I didn't even look at.

It is an overwhelming exhibition always.

But for one who had not looked at any new art for several months it was a welcome diversion, and a reminder that everyone has different taste.

Lunch was good!