Summer Exhibition in RA

I barely made it to Summer Exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts. It is an annual exhibition since 1769 and this year is was on since June 13th until August 21st. I visited it only yesterday a day before its closure. The exhibition features around a thousand works of contemporary artist, some of them are graduates of Royal Academy, selected by the commute from over 12,000 works. It is a multi media exhibition: you can find photographs, sketches, sculptures, oils, acrylics, watercolours, installations.. Everyone can find something to his taste.

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I am not a true fan of contemporary art but I loved the exhibition! It is the essence of a current state of art. Almost all the artworks are for sale and you can find artworks of both emerging and established artists there. Prices vary from hundreds to hundred thousands pounds. Some works are also available in editions and they are less expensive than the originals. As I visited the exhibition towards the end it is difficult for me to say how fast the artworks were sold out. When I visited I was prepared to go home with a new piece of art but all the artworks I liked were sold already.. So next year I will not make the same mistake and will try to be one of the first visitors! However, visiting in the last few days also has its advantages – tickets are half prices, as well as catalogues. So if you are not planning art shopping it is more budget friendly to wait until the last day.

Now my thoughts about art, it is an art blog after all. I will repeat myself – I loved it! So many different techniques, and subject matters. Some artworks were serious and deep, some ironic and witty. It is amazing how many everyday things were turned into art – aluminium hangers were covered into a dear sculpture, metal bottle caps, toilet seat and even a bread slice!

Even thought there were many artworks that I admired, some of them were still way too “contemporary” for my taste. I did not like the room with a lot of nudity and vulgar content. From my point of view some artworks were tasteless and too primitive.

I would like to mention some works individually.

I liked a 3D wall sculpture by Cathy de Monchaux “Migration”. It is a large artwork – 70 cm high and two meters long and is made of copper wires and bandages. Ii is an extremely detailed artwork showing migrating horses in the woods. It is very deep and it “consumes” the viewer due to its depth and large scale. The price for this artwork is £35,000.

Jimmy Cauty presented a large (183cm high) installation “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part 3: The Bridge”. It is a shipping container with installation inside. On each sides there are many holes on different nights through which you can see the installation. I was stuck to this artwork for quite some time as I wanted to look through every hole. Each hole gives you different angle and different elements of the crash. The figures inside are very detailed and the setting seems very real. For those who are interested you can read more about this work on the artist’s website, this work is a part of a bigger artwork which shows the whole city. Here is the video of how the container was placed inside the Academy.

Anselm Kiefer, Bose Blumen, Mixed media, 280×570. (Not for sale)

This was a very powerful installation, a tiny bit creepy, but powerful. Large scale installation with 10,00 panels with changing document-style portraits by Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman.

Thousands of screws were used to create this artwork. And it looks amazing close up! It is created by David Mach and is called “Dark Matter”. Dimensions are 224 x 117 x 92 cm and price is £82,000.

And this artwork gave me a head ache… It was very disturbing walking pass this “squashed” head. John Humphreys sculpture “David Noble Tractus”, £47,500.

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It looks like curator has a personal grudge against Clara Sancho-Arroyo as her artwork “Habanero” was placed in the least visible place.. You have to step way back to be able to see it. It is oil on canvas and priced at £2,100.

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Some walls were a little overwhelming and it was challenging to concentrate on artworks individual because there were just so many of them! But I know that the space is limited so this density is unavoidable. All in all I enjoyed the exhibition.. My apologies that my post is published when the exhibition is over. But it is an annual thing, so bare it in mind!

Painting the Modern Garden

“I perhaps owe it to flowers that I became a painter” Claude Monet

Royal Academy of Arts presents new exhibitions devoted to gardens pictured by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde. The title reads “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse” which is on from 30th of January until 20th of April. The idea is to explore how did gardens develop in art through late 19th to early 20th centuries. When talking about Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Gard usually french artists pop to mind, however, in this exhibition Monet’s works were taken as a starting point and  the subject was further developed by international artists.

Today was the first day the exhibition was open to the public and it was packed. Even though there are time slot allocations it was very crowded and a bit tricky to read captures and admire the paintings. Suggestions: it might be a good idea to go in the morning!

Gardens were a popular subject matter for late 19th century for painters as it became more common for society to spend leisure time in gardens. It was a protest against rapid industrialisation. Moreover, for the painting technique gardens are perfect for impressionists: it has bright colours, nature, natural light – all in favour to play and experiment with strokes and brushes.

Two large rooms are devoted to Monet’s early paintings at Giverny as well as his late works. Some paintings are “work in progress” and it is interesting to see two paintings of the same subject but in different colours side by side. The same bridge is painted in different tones: one is vibrant using bright greens and another one is done in pastel colours.

It is known that Monet was obsessed with lilies. There are 7 paintings of water lilies and not two of them are the same. Each painting has slightly different composition and amount of light.

There is also a greenhouse with flowers is the middle of the room as well as in every corner. It is a great idea how to support the subject by expanding it beyond paintings and by adding related journals, books, photographs and even live flowers.

One room is designed for visitors to learn more about the subject, there are tables with encyclopaedias and art books accessible to public, large photographs on the walls of different artists as well as short black and white silent film about gardens and how they were painted.

I overheard different conversations, some were about art (perspectives, textures, colours etc) but some people were sharing gardening tips inspired by the subject of exhibition.  Overall Royal Academy presented not so mainstream artists and it was interesting to see not so “traditional” impressionists techniques.