Summer Exhibition 2024 ★★★★ Royal Academy of Arts | Jun 18 - Aug 18, 2024

With all the rain this year, how does one know if it's finally summer in London? The only reliable harbinger of the season's return, the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition, is back in its 256th iteration. With its eclectic variety of offerings, this largest open exhibition in the world never disappoints, and again this year, there is something for everyone. From abstracts like PRA Rebecca Salter's Untitled JF2 (#504) to the wonderful detail of Melissa Scott-Miller's Self-Portrait Drawing Space In An Islington Back Garden (#641) the breadth and variety of the show is quite stunning. The always popular animal prints are represented in the Large Weston Room, and Graeme Miller's cats on scooters definitely trigger a smile (#360 & #365). As usual, the show has a fair amount of humour and RA Chris Orr's Cargo (#662) and Laura Critchlow's Bored of the Patriarchy (Judith and Holofernes) (#958) offer wry takes on current social issues. For more challenging perspectives on the present political scene however, there are RA Michael Sandle's The Mass Slaughter of Defenceless Women & Children Is Not How You Deradicalise Gaza (#425) and RA Conrad Shawcross' The Kirigamic System (II) (#429). Created in wool/cotton and ceramics respectively, Chunyoung Yang's Love Myself (#42) and Maureen Brigden's People Like Us (#129) also stand out, and we were delighted by RA Ron Arad's installation The Quartet (#1408). However, as always, almost as much fun as enjoying the art is the pastime of contemplating the prices, from the affordable to the incomprehensible. This year RA Jock McFadyen has the oil version of his intriguing City Life: Goodfellas 2 (#683) priced at £30,000 in one room while the same piece as a digital print with hand painting (#1376) is available in another room at £1,370. So whether you're a buyer or a browser, the season's arrival is now confirmed with the coming of one of its defining outings. It's time to savour the Summer Exhibition!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2024 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, 18 June - 18 August 2024. Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London / David Parry

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