Summer Exhibition 2021 ★★★★★ Royal Academy of Arts | Sep 22, 2021 - Jan 2, 2022


This year's Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2021, subtitled Reclaiming Magic, is co-ordinated by Yinka Shonibare, who gets the tone just right. In the past, this show might have sometimes seemed a bit dry and dull, but this year the nine galleries are crammed from floor to ceiling with colour and frivolity alongside occasionally more serious works. Somehow the huge variety of styles all meld together, and out of 1,382 works it is virtually impossible to pick a favourite. The soft grey hues of Mick Moon's paintings certainly appeal, especially when contrasted with Victor Ehikhamenor's amazing multimedia "The Holy King from the Sky." We particularly liked Lu Mason's woven "Magician" and Jaana Fowler's bowl of ceramic "Marigolds" certainly raises a smile. They are gloves, not flowers! Naturally, there are pieces which one feels have no place in these hallowed halls, but that is as much a matter of taste as one of quality. Not everything works, of course, and one questions the reason for showing a copy of a famous Frida Kahlo self-portrait, especially as it is so high up. The inclusion of no less than four paintings by Mali Morris seems a little excessive, but these are minor niggles. There are also many more textiles on view this year with a kaleidoscope of colours and textures. This incredibly diverse and slightly mad exhibition certainly fits Shonibare's concept. Go along and you will be astounded at room after room filled to bursting with some wonderfully eclectic art. This is a show that offers the most fun in town!

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Image: Eddy Kamuanga, Oubliez le passé et vous perdez les deux yeux. Courtesy of the Artist and October Gallery, London.

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