The delayed Summer Exhibition features over 1,300 pieces, curated by Yinka Shonibare and a panel of artists.
After the pandemic caused chaos to the arts (and everything else!), the annual Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts has been shuffled around a bit over the past two years. Just as last year, the 2021 exhibition is more of of an ‘autumn/winter’ exhibition as it was forced to open later than usual, although is keeping its usual seasonal name for familiarity. This year’s collection features over 1,300 works selected by coordinator Yinka Shonibare and a panel of artists.
To those unfamiliar with the RA’s Summer Exhibition, the beauty of the show is anyone can enter their work – from established and famous artists and architects to rising new talent. While hanging art such as prints, paintings, photography and sketches dominate, there are also sculptures and architectural models. What’s great is all artworks are available to purchase, with the proceeds going to the artist and the RA’s charity work.
This year’s theme was ‘Reclaiming Magic’, although it was clear to see influences from recent issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement following the George Floyd murder, living through the Covid-19 pandemic and various lockdowns; and the resulting economic shifts and struggles. One of my main impressions of this year’s exhibition was the sheer vibrancy of colour and how playful it is. For those looking for political art, many artists have used the opportunity to express their views, such as Sliz Gillard’s ‘Felt Food’, which highlights the Tory’s austerity cuts, while a Boris Johnson voodoo doll certainly made me chuckle. It is certainly the most thought-provoking Summer Exhibition I’ve been to yet.
- The Summer Exhibition 2021 runs from 22 September 2021 – 2 January 2022. Open Tues–Sun: 10am–6pm. Tickets: £20-£22. Main Galleries, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest stations: Green Park, Bond Street or Piccadilly Circus. For more information and booking, visit the RA website.