With well over 1,000 artworks to peruse this year, the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition 2016 has allowed its many visitors access to a great and varied selection of works. Being able to view artists as renowned as the Chapman Brothers and Marina Abramovic is a treat, but more importantly, being showcased alongside lesser known, or totally unknown, artists from around the world is a wonderful way of supporting talent across the board. This year the show has been curated by artist Richard Wilson, whose theme of artistic duos and collaborations is significant in many parts of the show.
The Summer Exhibition’s remit is famously to eradicate themes and dichotomies between artists and artworks alike, so that works of any context or subject matter can be displayed together at the will of the curator, as opposed to constructing a narrative as parts of a whole. This is quite the relief for the RA’s viewing audience, as trying to create a unilateral vision from such a vast amount of artworks is a task that would potentially be overwhelming and, ultimately, pointless. Despite this, the architecture section of the show, taking up the Large Weston Room and accompanying Small Weston Room is the first point of reference piquing our interest at Anise Gallery, given our ethos of merging art and architecture as joint disciplines.
Curating architectural works, in both two- and three-dimensional forms, can be challenging to be received by a general public audience, especially as the industry appears closed to many people and, as an art form, its public exhibitions are far more scarce than the likes of contemporary fine art and music. So it is with this that the show has great potential to be informative to the public about issues in architecture and how they are presented to client and more general viewer alike; its place within an art exhibition means that the general viewing public are likely to learn most from and appreciate pieces which aesthetically stand out, much like observing buildings in the city.
The Large Weston Room is full of big players in architecture, alongside lesser known practitioners, and it is incredibly interesting to locate Farshid Moussavi’s digital print, ‘EC3M 5DJ’, which, being based on a 3D render, is clearly rooted in both art and architecture. Aesthetically the image resembles textures found in Japan?s Yokohama Pier Port Terminal, one of Moussavi’s projects at Foreign Office Architects. EC3M 5DJ is the postcode of Fenchurch Street, considered the epitome of not only business in the City of London but also speculative and corporate architecture. Moussavi’s image shows a reflection of these developments in the facade of another building. While it is stated that the theme of the architecture room is ‘the unbuilt’, as aforementioned the exhibition prides itself on not adhering to stringent themes. This creates the possibility for more abstraction and contemporary art themes to be employed in the space, including Tess Jaray’s ‘Aleppo 3’, this time a painting but with a highly photographic quality, showcasing the minutiae of architecture as pattern and design, much like the tactile work of gallery artist Thom Gorst.
By Issey Scott