Blimey, has a year really gone by since the last RA Summer Exhibition?
It has indeed, but it would be hard to tell, stepping through the doors afresh after 12 months. For it’s the same old, same old: more shocking Tracey Emin (the prices more shocking than the artwork), yet more identical wordplays by Michael Craig-Martin (enough already), more stunning maquettes by architectural labourers and, I’m sorry to say, a general sense of déja vu.
Of course there are highlights, but having omitted to bring a camera I can’t show you any of them. For imagery we must thank the Royal Academy Press Office, but none of the images they chose would have been on my list.
Firstly, I’d like to meet Tess Jaray RA down a dark alley some night. She curated the works in Gallery V, and not only elbowed in four copies in different colours of her own identical work, but had the arrogance, snobbery and condescension to announce in print that her selection was “only for people who are sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful. No one else will enjoy it.” Well Tess, for making a comment like that you need a good slapping round your sensitive and intelligent bits. How dare you patronise us? Fortunately being insensitive, unintelligent and thoughtless myself, she was right. I didn’t enjoy it. It was far from being the best room.
It wasn’t quite the worst though. That honour was reserved for Gallery X, a collection of mediocrity only enlivened by Caroline Gorick’s Th’Angelic Guards Ascended Mute And Sad For Man.
But enough bile. What did I like? Plenty, though as I said not having had my camera to hand means all I can do is credit artist and title. H34 Robert by Michael Vogt was a photograph of a ruined industrial building with, in the distance, a Piranesian impression of bare ruin’d choirs. The juxtaposition was very pleasing.
I enjoyed the flat planes and airbrush style colouring of Razzle Dazzle by Allen Jones RA, while nearby the bucolic and faux-naïve Summer Landscape, Autumn Lovers by Antony Green RA was enhanced by its elongated lozenge shape. Tom Philips RA’s Remains of the Day I & II were small, lustrous and massively expensive.
The most startling splash of colour was Deep Impact by Keith Tyson, huge, mixed media on aluminium and not for sale. Stephen Chambers RA produces desirable work, as does David Tindle RA and Paul Caton.
Would I buy anything I saw? Yes, if I had the money. I haven’t got £3.50 to rub together, let alone £35,000, but if I did I would seriously consider Dora, Venice Interior 2010 by Ken Howard RA. Not only is it sumptuously painted, it is also the interior of the apartment we stayed with my sister and brother-in-law in Venice last year. Coincidentally it was lent to them by Ken Howard.
And finally to what you’ve all been waiting for — the result of my annual Get Rid Of Lazy Thinking Among Artists campaign. This year’s tally is EIGHTEEN — that’s right, 18 — out of 1,117 works exhibited were titled “UNTITLED”.
Pathetic. You’d think big boys and girls would have grown out of dumb lack of imagination but no, even the respected Anish Kapoor was guilty of the solecism this year.
Now I’m rushing off out to dinner. I’ll add some images tomorrow, if I remember.
CREDITS: Keith Tyson, Deep Impact Mixed media on aluminum. 398 x 198cm. Courtesy of the artist and The Pace Gallery, London
Lazy thinking by the photographer (and subject):
Cindy Sherman, Untitled # 472. 2008. Colour photograph. 169.9 x 127cm, edition 3-6. Courtesy of the artist, Metro Pictures and Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Would you pay £60,000 for this? Neither would I.
Martin Creed, Work no. 998. 2009. Wood, metal, fabric. 187 x 70 x 62cm. © Martin Creed. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Barbora Gerny
Installation view of Gallery IV, with David Nash’s Funnel in the foreground and John Maine’s Definition in Five Stages in the background, left. Photo: John Bodkin