As I passed through the main doors into the Summer Exhibition space I was suddenly very aware of the buzz, there was a light and buzzing atmosphere, it was busy but not heaving….
The first room you enter is the central hall at the top of the stairs – on the wall opposite the entrance is an installation of the word ‘Forever’ in bright lights. Below this is a portrait that made me take a double take: it was called ‘Marie Antoinette: The Queen’s Hamlet’ by Pierre et Gilles.
I kept returning to this portrait as I found it mesmerising – in my opinion it is inspired by Mme Vigee Le Brun’s portrait of Marie Antoinette holding a rose. This portrait is a clever take on this with ‘Le Hameau’ featuring prominently in the background, the effect is to balance the composition: neither the model nor the background stood out as being more prominent. This is in contrast to the Le Brun portrait where Marie Antoinette is very much the focal point in a satin blue dress holding a rose. (This portrait caused a scandal at the time of its unveiling as she was thought improperly dress as she was not in formal attire!)
Throughout the rooms there is an extensive number of artworks ranging from paintings, drawings, models and a variety of three-dimensional works. Work by professional artists and notable Royal Academicians are displayed alongside one another – it is a fantastic mix!
Other notable artworks on display include a woodcut by James Fisher called ‘Margaret Morse’ (2015). I selected this artwork as woodcuts are not as popular as paintings in particular – the image was simple yet striking all printed in varying shades of blue. There is a side profile of whom I presume is Margaret Morse with a study of a bird within the outline – what does it mean, does this symbolise something or is there a hidden meaning? I think of the ‘Rose and the Nightingale’ by Oscar Wilde: a nightingale sacrifices her voice to create a rose that is given to a woman as an act of love. This image provokes deep thought…
‘Jackpot’ by Professor Richard Wilson RA is an example of another form of print – inkjet on paper. This is a quirky image in bold colours. It depicts a variety of bells, horns and chimes. It is a 2-dimensional image yet the bold colours and use of images conveys sound and loud noise very cleverly.
‘Carrying the Skeleton’ by Marina Abramovic Hon RA is a photograph by the celebrated artist. It is a simple composition of a person carrying a skeleton on a black background – simple yet so striking.
‘Breathing Space’ by Vanessa Jackson RA is an oil painting. This is an interesting piece in that the artwork is comprised of blocks of colour-linear blocks of colours. What makes this interesting and indeed a fascinating composition is that the geometric shapes mirror and reflect one another. The effect is to create an atmosphere of balance and calm for the viewer.
‘Transformer – Performer DOUBLE ACT VIII, 2015’ is a collage using mixed media by Eva and Adele. When I stood close up I was drawn to the mass of colour and shapes. When I took a step back and looked and contemplated, I could see images began to emerge and thought what a clever piece of artwork this is. The panel is divided into two with two sets of images that are similar with very subtle differences. I also felt that there is something possibly autobiographical about the work – it featured 2 women; the artwork is also infused with something very feminine that is hard to verbalise: is it the colours, shapes, abstract objects or the outline of two beautiful female faces that look out to the viewer…
Lastly, Jake and Dinos Chapman’s ‘Human Rainbow II (Coloured) was added to the mixture of work by working artists, Royal Academicians and art enthusiasts – these are celebrity artists. As provocative and sensational as always this hand coloured etching depicts a snowman being crucified while Jesus looks on with his hands outstretched showing his wounds- the stigmata. Its quite eerie as colours radiate from the snowman and amidst this is a single eye! Overall I found the image made me feel uncomfortable, it’s surreal and for that reason quite unnerving. The rays radiating from the crucified snowman may seem initially comical but this is overshadowed by the single eye- it may represent something sinister…. I think of the eye from Lord of the Rings…
Overall this was an interesting exhibition and well worth a visit!