A Summer Exhibition

Every year, The Royal Academy has a summer exhibition of works by new artists. This is the first time I’ve been there and there were literally hundreds of pieces, some very large, some small, but each with their own style and with seemingly endless themes. It’s quite an overwhelming experience to see, some of my favourites being a piece of granite carved to be like a sea-shell and some ‘charming’ little prints showing this, that and the other. As a first, I actually got the catalogue so as to see them later. What was especially impressive was that even ones that weren’t really to my taste showed a lot of technical skill.

What are interesting in this exhibition are the little red stickers next to works. Not that they are so beautiful themselves, but they mean that someone’s bought the piece (or a print of it). Some of them sold many, others a few and some not at all. You could sometimes see why, as only certain art is what someone would want in their home (the larger ones that sold were probably bought by galleries). Some pictures with rich, blue and red colours, so vivid and delicious looking you almost want to eat them were a popular choice, selling about twenty copies. With some I wondered why they were passed by, it’s all a bit of a mystery.

In a nearby shop/gallery the same we had seen more famous artist’s work on sale- for predictably larger sums. There were actually plates by Picasso and paintings by Juan Miro there, the cheapest being ‘only’ 4,000 pounds. It just goes to show that it is possible to buy art, if never truly to own it (if, like me, you believe it really belongs ‘to the people’).

Having said all this, what I probably got the most out of seeing was some works by acknowledged masters- no, not Monty Python, but this time the French impressionists. Seeing the atmosphere and sense of natural wonder they capture almost makes me want to throw my camera out of an airplane window and replace it with paint and easel (funnily enough, though, someone on pbase is painting my photos and the painters themselves often worked in the studio, using quickly-drawn sketches).

One thing in all of this that probably can never, never be totally reproduced are the colours. Being mixed from oil paints, delicate, moving shades are possible that are almost as vivid as the real thing. My lack of patience and skills in this area, though, mean that I won’t be giving up on photography any time soon. But I may well try my hand at some painting all the same.

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