Royal Academy Schools Show 2021 ★★★★ Royal Academy of Arts | Until July 4, 2021 - FREE


In 1920 Charles Sims declared the Royal Academy Schools should be a centre for research and experimentation. We wonder how he would have viewed this new graduation show. Even to today's world weary viewer some of the exhibits are puzzling; what would Sims have made of Clara Hastrup's Fishdriver (run free) featuring a tiny live blue fish swimming in an equally tiny glass tank? This room also contains an elaborate miniaturised Big Dipper. Elsewhere, video and photographic exhibits stand side by side with rooms filled with Rothko-esque paintings. We found the large room by Irini Bachlitzanaki perhaps the most beguiling with its representations of summer holidays and relaxation so rare in recent times. A room dedicated to a campaign to abolish the British monarchy reminds us that art has been used as a political tool since ancient times. Displaying enormous diversity as well as ambition, there is a willingness to delve into the complexity of the latest artistic directions. The exhibition is somewhat labyrinthine and mystifying, but highly enjoyable.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Image: Fishdriver (run free), 2021, by Clara Hastrup. Installation view, RA Schools Show 2020x1, 2021. Photo by Andy Keate.

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