This is the 2nd part (of what I have now decided will be three) blogs about the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This blog will talk about the architecture exhibits. Sort of anyway. It will cover those and vaguely related pieces.
I am, not that interested in architecture as a subject. I like pretty buildings, I like drawing them but the subject of architecture is not something that particularly grips me. It was my impression last year, re-iterated this year, that the architectural exhibits at the Summer Exhibition are among some of the most artistically interesting, well conceived and technically excellent pieces in the whole show. You have good drawings, paintings, photographs, plans and sculpture. Here are some of my favourites.
The above are all works of professional people presumably working in a sophisticated way in a sophisticated environment, many of them as part of a team of people. It is perhaps not surprising they produce works of such quality. There is a much more commercial feel to them, which is odd as many of the pieces are not for sale where as the rest of the exhibition are. They say very boldly as succinctly, look, this is what we can do. Come and commission us. They are to modern day architecture what the still life was to the dutch masters. I shall leave you now with one of my favourite pieces from the rest of the exhibition. It is a made from wool being a work in felt, the only example of such in the whole place. It is called Frosted Woodland and is by the very talented Bridget Karn.
I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy this week. It was hot this week, very hot, and the Royal Academy had an air conditioning system. There is no doubt this enhanced my experience. It was a blessed relief in fact. This is the first part of a series of blogs on the works that made an impression on me.
It has to be said that the initial impression of the exhibition is not good. There are two reasons for this. The first is the sheer number of exhibits is at first overwhelming. You are left with just an impression of brightly coloured nonsense. The second is the first room, which is a rotunda from which the other rooms radiate out. This year, as last year, it was filled with trash including the odd and garish photo of a glamour model in a frilly white dress. After wandering around a few times though my eyes began to adjust and I could differentiate the pieces I liked from, well, everything else.
The sculpture was poor and I shall speak no more about them, particularly not the feeble sexually explicit ones.
There is a strategy I use going round the exhibition. The trick is to walk through a room one way then another. Walking around in different directions and different pieces catch your eye. Some of them reward closer examination but some of them disappoint. Commercially speaking the show has been a success. Red dots abound and many of the editions of prints had sold out.
I had also done a preliminary research. The RA have added a very good facility to their website which allows you to peruse the paintings. There are over 1000 but I went through the first 500 making a note of the artists I like. Some art works are better in real life, some are worse. Ken Howard for example, good as he is, is much better in photographed form than in real life in my view.
As I went round I circled in the useful catalogue that is given out those works I liked. It is strangely it reassuring when you keep choosing the same artist again and again. Gave me confidence in my own taste.
That's it for this week. The theme I have chosen is those artists for whom more than one work caught my eye. They are all RA which is perhaps not surprising as they can exhibit as of right and can therefore get more works in than us mere mortals. All in there own way very good works. I will go onto architecture and others in the next couple of weeks but I will leave you now with Annie Whiles The Areoplane (Largest Dog). It was amusing to see people do a double take of this and its partner (Smallest Dog) as they went past. I like this.
Drawing and painting people has always been one of the weakest parts of my art so I have tended to avoid it. Finally though I decided to take the plunge, partly as I wanted to get better and partly because my tutor Hugh Mendes specialises in portraits and it seems foolish not to make use of this fund of knowledge. The first task was to pick subjects and so I decided to pick 2, one personal and one not. I picked a picture of me with my grandfather Kenneth Mackenzie (below left) and a picture of Obama blowing a bubble.
I was close with my grandfather and we got on well. This picture is when I am about 8 and in many ways captures the quality of our relationship. The Obama picture, is just a call image. I admire Obama but also this is compositionally a very good image and the bubble attracted me as a painting challenge.
All and interesting experience. The Obama portrait doesn't actually look like him. The head and neck are too thin, the chin too high and the skin too light (although not that much). On the other hand it does actually look like a convincing person and looks thoroughly three dimensional.
My grandfather and me, looks more like the people they are supposed to. Again my grandfather's head needs to be thicker and the area around the mouth needs work. What I think I have managed to capture well is the interaction between the two.
For first attempts they are not too bad. I am encouraged and shall do more. One day they will actually look like the person. That will be nice.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.