Thursday 28 June 2007

Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London

Each summer, the Royal Academy displays a huge variety of contemporary paintings, sculptures, architectural models, electronic pictures and photographs in a dozen galleries in elegant and historic Burlington House. The exhibits on show this year range from an award-winning, but very missable, wooden sculpture of a candle to a vast David Hockney painting of spindly trees covering an entire wall to a vertical electronic light backed by a mirror, which briefly displays the word LOVE if the viewer moves their head rapidly from side to side. The quality and prices of the thousand displayed works, which are sourced from submissions from a wide range of established and amateur UK artists, is as variable as the styles and subject matter. Among the more absorbing pieces are a striking grey bookcase containing grey books bearing quotations from Hamlet on their spines, a large painting detailing how rays of natural light illuminate the eclectic clutter sprinkled through the artist's studio and a stark updating of Seurat's famous painting Bathers at Asnieres. In this version, each element of the picture is painted in bold, flat colours with no shading, while a factory provides the backdrop and the river runs a lurid orange. All in all, there are enough pleasing, stimulating or thought-provoking works to make it worthwhile jostling with the crowds trying to view this exhibition. Admission costs £8 for adults. 8/10