WOW! The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is really different this year. Well, the colour scheme is, anyway.
Instructions from David Hockney means that the colour of all
but a couple of the 14 gallery walls are an unaccustomed, muted
stone colour instead of the usual white. Motivated by a desire to
give a visual unity to the exhibits, the 66-year-old artist said:
"White makes you see all the edges of everything. If you tone that
down, the edges are softened."
As for the pictures, it's pretty well the same menu as in recent
years and all the populist academicians are, of course, much in
There's Ken Howard's (b. 1932) obligatory studio interior with
draped model (La Friulana in Cornovagua, £33,000) and Venetian
scenes (The Fish Market, Venice and Snow in Venice, each priced at
£22,000 and Wet Reflection, Venice 04, £12,000), although he also
demonstrates his versatility by hanging a large oil of a rugby
Mary Fedden (b. 1915) proffers her ever-popular simplified forms
via the oils Sleeping Cat (£20,000), Black Chair (£20,000), and the
pencil drawings Tresco and Cat and Lilies (£8000 each). Fred Cuming
(b. 1930) presents five of his blue imbued compositions (£12,500
each), all of which, particularly Cutty Sark, are worthy of note,
as are Dame Elizabeth Blackadder's (b. 1931) flower studies and
still lifes (£4500-15,000).
As always, this is a show of 'the good, the bad and the ugly'. A
number of exhibits really grabbed my attention.
John Patrick Humphrey's Portrait of Leonard McComb, RA (£11,750),
a highly detailed, but slightly disconcerting, piece made of glass
fibre, and meticulously painted in acrylics, possesses an awesome
likeness of the man given that the head is modelled on a
pronounced, elongated form.
David Remfry's (b. 1942) sizeable watercolour Havana (£24,000), is
an impressive depiction of dancers in which much use is made of the
white of the paper.
Two of the other eye-catchers were a vivacious, Turneresque
watercolour Resurrection, Sunrise (£8000) by Leslie Worth (b. 1923)
and, by complete contrast, there is Deadweight X (Memnon), 1991, a
large expanse of dense, roughly textured black on a white paper
ground by American Richard Serra (b. 1939) which is one of the
nominations for the £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award.
Also worth a visit is Gallery VI, which includes doodles by
non-artists such as Sir Clive Woodward's drawing of team tactics
for the Six Nations Italy v England game on February 15 2004.
There's something refreshing and cutting-edge about some of the
images which, given that they were not created as works of art, is
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