c2000 by Jock McFadyen
RA Summer Exhibition 2013
It’s summertime again and, low and behold, the RA unveils its annual Summer Exhibition – extraordinarily now in its 245th year. Extraordinarily, as rarely do we now see a muddle of contemporary artists stacked on top of one another in academy style; the likes of Tracey Emin alongside those we may never have heard of. The unashamed, overwhelmingly full rooms of art are a welcome contrast to the slick streamlined spaces of the white cube galleries. There is a nostalgia for these bulging stuffy old walls; celebrated, chastised, reacted against, the RA reminds us of the wealth of art being made now – and just how much there is. Standard, as always, varies wildly, with colour, style and material crashing noisily into one another from room to room; though with such an expanse of work, surely that is part of the fun. McFadyen’s (RA) Tate Moss hangs at the back of the largest gallery, reminding us of one of the delights of the summer show – size is no problem, numerous large works can happily gather here. For McFadyen’s painting, size is important, as the imposing urbanity of this building can impress itself upon the viewer. Lines are crisp and dead straight, picked out in the structure and grain of the brick, emphasised by McFadyen’s wonderful collage-like approach to paint. Each colour and compartment of painting is picked out as if cut from a different fabric or texture. This gives the painting a depth that draws the eye across the composition, making us acutely aware of each detail – be it a breeze block , pane of glass, or the strength of the turquoise paint against the earthy colours of construction. Gleaming, these details are reflected back at us, from the windows and the magnificently blue waters of the rejected ripples of the canal. The delight with which McFadyen picks out these corners of London betrays an elated feeling of discovery: finding somewhere forgotten that has only gathered more beauty in its being left quite alone.