Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012
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Until Sun Aug 12 2012
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Time Out says
Wed Jun 20 2012
Tradition dictates that there will be pictures of dogs – here, kennelled together and humorously installed near a hyper-real painting of lamb cutlets – and that there will be inexplicable juxtapositions of the beautiful, the banal and the bonkers. Oh, of course, you will also pull an involuntary WTF? expression at least once. Yes, it's the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, art's contribution to 'The Season' of Ascot, Henley and Wimbledon and by far its most enjoyable element by virtue of having very little to do with horses (RA president Christopher Le Brun's contribution to the show aside), rowing or tennis.
Progress isn't really the point of this annual cheek-by-jowl jamboree of work by Academicians, their mates and lucky, open-submission hopefuls but, thanks to co-ordinator Tess Jaray, this year's show really is a bit different. You've probably walked across one of Jaray's works hundreds of times without realising it – she designed the pattern of the floor tiles at Victoria station. The same severe but slinky aesthetic governs her gently op-ish, two part work 'After Malevich' which, in effect, is a microcosm of what she has achieved in Room III. This is where the big paintings usually reside but, instead, Jaray presents undulating waves of medium-sized works, including her own, on vogue-ish grey walls.
The installation energises the initial stages of a Summer Exhibition that rings the changes in other ways. In the Small Weston Room you'll find, not the usual 'Sunset over Crawley'-type soul-sappers but a trilogy of films by Jayne Parker, whose clipped, linear aesthetic abuts aspects of avant-garde sound and vision in a way that feels like a healthy continuation of modernism rather than a longing for better days.
Which isn't to say that the show has deviated too far from its template. There are still hundreds of works to sift through. Those that look good here – the blocky abstractions of the late John Hoyland are especially strong against the red walls of the Central Hall – really earn their spurs. My favourite, since you ask, is Keith Coventry's painting 'Junk III', a gloriously unhappy meal of McDonald's golden arches given a suprematist-style makeover. Very summery.
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