The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London – what a great show, full of colour, cleverness and wit. A creative tonic for our time.

Nathan playing the Double Bass by Jane Rogers, paper collage
Head 1 and Head 1 coloured pencil, Russell Heron

It’s always so encouraging to see paper, whether it’s been used literally to create the art, or is represented. My eye was drawn to these two pieces on the walls of the Royal Academy because of the simple celebration of paper/cardboard and all it can do. The portrait of Nathan is a charming and direct collage made with a blade and the two cardboard portraits by Russell Heron are coloured pencil.

The main takeaway from this year’s ‘summer’ exhibition (which runs from 22nd September to 2nd January 2022) is a great sense of humour, delight in playful images and ideas and a really free approach to the selection of art. Sometimes these shows can feel very ponderous and dark this one absolutely revels in colour and variety and each room dazzles like a variety pack of sweeties as each image vies for your attention.

I liked the wittiness of Shelf Isolation by Phil Shaw (below). Just read the titles of the books – you get an entertaining narrative as well as a visual joke.

I loved the charming paper collage by Laurence Noga entitled Double Red Filtered Yellow using a variety of paint, paper and vintage papers.

Narrative paintings always appeal to me. This delightful landscape – Nile River Boat by Ragab Osman Abdelaziz – is peopled with so much activity and loaded with stories of life in a busy place.

This one just amused me: entitled Families, Picking Noses by Colin Cameron. Made me smile.

As ever, there is so much to see and much to praise and ponder. I’ll finish my very brief sprint around the galleries with a further gallery of works which I liked. I can’t tell you why I liked them, I just did.

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