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Unmissable Art at the Royal Academy

Unmissable Art at the Royal Academy

[SUMMER] WINTER EXHIBITION

2020 was set to host a Summer Exhibition like no other, and we must say the Royal Academy of Arts once again delivered a stunning collection of artworks. Each year is surprising and distinct, however, the 252nd Summer Exhibition was rudely interrupted by the pandemic and moved to the winter months.  

The Royal Academy of Arts, based in Burlington House is in itself, quite breath-taking. The former Palladian mansion hosts large marble columns and the tallest of ceilings. The different mediums of art are captivating; an eclectic mix of paintings, lithographs, photography, film, and sculptures fill every room taking you on a journey as you wander through.

This year’s co-ordinators were twins Jane and Louise Wilson, who were hoping to take the exhibition in a new direction. They intended to showcase art which represents the more pressing topics of today including identity, climate change, immigration and pro-democracy protest. We were eager to find out how they would do so after watching the BBC documentary – Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. 
Out of the 20,000 or so pieces submitted, we can only imagine how tough the job of whittling down to around 1,400 must’ve been – kudos to Jane, Louise, the team and their conveyor belt process.

The first room pays homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, with the first room being dedicated to Okwui Enwezor who passed away in 2019, and other Black artists and Academicians. The first piece being Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour, London 1983 – Who Killed Colin Roach? Which is a montage of photographs taken during the protests after the death of Colin Roach. This was a powerful addition to the exhibition. The likes of Sonia Boyce, Yinka Shonibare and Oscat Murillo were also seen at the start.

One great thing about the exhibition is that absolutely anyone can submit artwork. Whether that be aspiring artists who will then get to display their artwork amongst household names, the Summer Exhibition celebrates old, traditional art whilst welcoming and encouraging the new. 

Wondering through the large rooms, there's an overwhelming sense of calmness. We spent a while taking in the artwork around us, each piece utterly unique. As you walk around, you can hear nothing but light footsteps and the echo from Twice (2020), a short video by John Smith in which he sings the minor key version of Happy Birthday twice, referencing the advice from Boris Johnson when washing your hands. 

The fact that you can purchase the artwork makes it ever so exciting as you walk round with your little red guidebook. Each time a work of art is purchased, a red dot is added beneath the art. Although the frenzied crowds were massively reduced, it was pleasing to witness a sea of little red dots surrounding each piece of artwork. This really reflects what a time it is to support artists and museums after a year of cancellations and closures. 
If you missed the exhibition and are bored of baking banana bread and going on walks, check out the virtual tour of the exhibition before it closes here

EMIN & MUNCH 
Walking into the Tracey Emin: The Loneliness of the Soul exhibition is a whole other experience. The exhibition features 25 of Emin’s works alongside 18 of Edvard Munch’s. Tracey Emin is fascinated with Munch and as stated on the Royal Academy website, has “been in love with this man since I was eighteen” and interestingly, chose from his work first and then added hers to compliment and respect him. Every piece has striking colours, each standing out on their own against dark blue walls, particularly her trademark neon signs.
There are so many words you could use to describe Emin’s work – powerful, emotional, heart-breaking, hilarious, intimate, agonising are just a few.
She presents aching beauty and explores pain and fear as well as feminism and intimacy. In most of her nude imagery, the faces are covered and although you can not see their facial expressions, their bodies tell the story and let your imagination and emotions take over. 
Tracey Emin has no fear, her artwork is raw and unpolished which makes it so much more authentic and relatable. The last words you see in her newest piece are “I am the last of my kind”, leaving this note hanging over you.
You can have a virtual peak at the exhibition before it closes here.

 

Unmissable Art at the Royal Academy

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