Summer Exhibition 2012 Royal Academy of Arts

Ryan Glyndwr Davies witnesses the Summer Exhibition 2012 at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Summer Exhibition 2012 Royal Academy of Arts review
Summer Exhibition 2012
Royal Academy of Arts
by Various Artists

Time and tide wait for no man. Neither it seems did the wave of art that pre-empted the summer solstice to unofficially mark the start of summer with the beginning of this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, one of the most awaited and prestigious art shows of the calendar.

Following its own tradition the Royal Academy of Arts has handed over its gallery spaces to a host of unknown and very known artists fortunate enough to make the selection. Depending on how you approach it, the Summer Exhibition can be seen as a visual extravaganza or a an energy sapping marathon-like spectacle as the visitor races to scrutinise and question as many of the 1500 or so works on show. Either way, multiple viewings are needed to do this much-anticipated and exciting exhibition true justice.

This year’s entries encompass assorted mediums; paint, architecture, print and sculpture to name a few. All tastes and price levels are catered for here. As you would expect the standard of the works on show is generally very high, although a minority do seem amateurish though with a naive charm. Housed within the centrepiece gallery, the works here have been hung in a wave-like assemblage. Stand at the centre of the room and cast your eyes through 360 degrees and you can literally follow the rise and fall evoking the Mexican wave that has seen a renaissance at the Euro 2012 football tournament. This is a fitting presentation that juxtaposes the diversity and unity of the works on show.

The Welsh entries, be they home grown or by influence – including Maurice Cockrill, Elfyn Lewis, Mali Morris, Terry Setch and David Nash – hold their own and stand out from the crowd in their own unique way. This is no mean feat given the scale of the show set across 14 galleries. From Nash’s Hump With A Hole to Lewis’s Goleuni, they have simply shown a sample of works that would be unmistakable in any of their solo shows. Those familiar with their work will find the accompanying list of works as a mere surplus. Welsh in nature, these works are largely universal and seem at home given any setting.

Above all this setting offers the opportunity to ask the question of the Welsh art on show: does it travel? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. The works are a true sign of the diversity and quality of the Welsh art that continues to emerge and flow over its borders. A pleasing sight indeed.