Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, London

2 July 2016 § Leave a comment

This review is also posted in arts & culture magazine CELLOPHANELAND here

There is probably little point in making any sort of critical analysis of the latest Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It is what it is, which to be honest is rather a mess. Pretty much every gallery is hung by a different curator and whilst it is interesting to see what they have done it is ultimately beside the point.

Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

The whole show should rather be taken more at face value – an annual opportunity for the talented, enthusiastic, amateurish and hopeful to apply to have their work on the walls of the academy. Here they can rub shoulders with the latest pieces from the Royal Academicians in a gloriously anarchic jumble.

David Mach Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

David Mach

Marina Abramovic Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Marina Abramovic – Carrying the Skeleton

This years ‘co-ordinator’ is the sculptor Richard Wilson best known for 20:50 – the oil filled installation at the Saatchi. He has invited twenty artistic duos to present their work within this years exhibition. We therefore have Gilbert & George with Beard Aware and Jane & Louise Wilson in the lobby stairwell with Chernobyl. 

Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Jane & Louise Wilson

Boyle Family Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Boyle Family – Elemental Study

There are other obvious duos like Jake & Dinos Chapman, Eva & Adele, Allora & Calzadilla, Bernd & Hilla Becher and Tim Noble & Sue Webster. Their presence however serves no real curatorial purpose and they are lost within the show – at best it is simply of interest to see some of their work.

Gilbert & George Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Gilbert & George – Beard Aware

Almost all of the pieces are of course for sale and it is quite a good opportunity to pick some work for your own walls. Prices of course vary considerably from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand, and for the uninitiated it is not always easy to spot the difference!

Anselm Kiefer Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Anselm Kiefer – Bose Blumen

For the first time the works are available to browse and buy online and we would highly recommend taking a look online before the show and before purchasing (link here).

Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

George Shaw – Black Magic

For our part we loved a little George Shaw edition (we highly recommend his National Gallery exhibition reviewed here) , Marguerite Horner’s enigmatic painted landscapes and Tom Hunter’s Rose prize-winning photograph Winterville. Harry Hill had one of his witty celebrity-oriented works – a tattooed David Beckham (sold but we hear High House Gallery has work available).

Tom Hunter Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Tom Hunter – Winterville

Marguerite Horner Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed by

Marguerite Horner – On the Edge

Harry Hill - David Beckham Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed by

Harry Hill – David Beckham

With rather more to spend Gert & Uwe Tobias’ had two spectacular works and there was a bright Gillian Ayres, which all seemed reasonable value despite the big ticket prices as did Rose Wylie’s Spider, Frog & Bird.

Gert & Uwe Tobias Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed by

Gert & Uwe Tobias – Untitled

The floor to ceiling ‘salon’ hang – which is the norm at the Summer Exhibition – makes for difficult viewing, but it is not often that so much (varied) talent is on view at the same time. Take it slowly and concentrate on works that catch your eye – we have posted a selection of those that caught ours – and you may just have a very enjoyable visit.

Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed by

David Mach

Gary Lawrence Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Gary Lawrence – Cinque Terre with Runner Beans

The RA Summer Exhibition runs until 16 August 2016

Rose Wylie Summer Exhibition Royal Academy reviewed at

Rose Wylie – Spider Frog & Bird

For more information visit

high house private view

27 June 2012 § 2 Comments

The extremely observant amongst you will have noticed that my last blog referred to our new gallery – High House. This is located in the leafy village of Clanfield in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds– which I would note lies in the UK for our followers in strange and distant lands.

Harry Hill Batting Stallions

The exhibition will comprise The Momentarily Absurd – a look at humour in contemporary art – in the gallery space, whilst outdoors in the gardens will be Dividing Line – gallery sculpture ‘crossing the line’ to be shown outdoors.

Nika Neelova Partings

The gallery opens is hosting a champagne Private View weekend on the 14/15 July. I will send an email invitation to those email followers who are able – and willing – to come along. To other, please click on one of the links to the gallery website, where you will be able to register with your email address. All those registering before the PV weekend will be sent an invitation.

Glen Baxter

I hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there!

Doyle & Mallinson Wendy Squat (3)

I will attempt to make a few blogs and feature some of the exciting artists that we’ll be showing – keep your eyes peeled!

Julie Cockburn Bird

High House
OX18 2SH

the best art jokes

3 September 2010 § 7 Comments

Mark Tansey - Modernism, Postmodernism

If you like this post please make a comment or like it. If you enjoy the blog please sign up for regular updates (right). Thanks akuta

The recent widely reported ‘Best Joke’  of the Edinburgh Festival 2010 prompted me to compile a list of the best art jokes. Artists have always mined a rich vein of humour and used it in a multiplicity of ways.

Maurizio Cattelan

There is even a very serious book on the subject – The Artists Joke which looks comprehensively at the subject via such artists as Maurizio Cattelan, Marcel Duchamp, Fischli & Weiss, Hannah Höch, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Barbara Kruger, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenberg, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso and Ed Ruscha. However, I will avoid any further academic discussion on humour in art – let us get to the jokes!  Counting down  accompanied by a few more obvious arty visual jokes at the same time:

David Shrigley - I Am Dead

5. There was an artist who worked from a studio in his home. His model showed up at the usual time and, after exchanging the usual small talk, began to disrobe for the day’s work. The artist told her not to bother, since he had a bad cold. He added that he would pay her for the day anyway, but that she could just go home; he just wanted some hot tea with lemon and honey.

The model said, “Oh, please, let me fix it for you. It’s the least I can do.” He agreed, and told her to fix herself a cup as well. They were sitting in the living room chatting and enjoying their tea, when he heard the front door open and close, and then some familiar footsteps. “Oh my!” he whispered loudly, “It’s my wife! Quick! Take all your clothes off!”

Richard Prince

4.  A wealthy man commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a portrait of his wife. Startled by the non-representational image on the final canvas, the woman’s husband complained, “It isn’t how she really looks.” When asked by the painter how she really looked, the man produced a photograph from his wallet. Returning the photography Pablo observed, “Small, isn’t she?”

Alison Jackson - Queen

3. A guy passes and artist standing next to a small hole in the wall yelling, “FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE”.
Interested the guy bends down and looks in the hole. Instantly the man is poked in the eye with the sharp end of a paint brush and runs off in pain. The artist stops yelling “FIVE FIVE FIVE” and starts yelling “SIX SIX SIX SIX”.

2. Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing from the Louvre. However, after escaping with the goods, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of fuel. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: “I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

1. Vincent van Gough walks into a bar, and the bartender offers him a drink…
No thank you, said Vincent, I’ve got one ‘ere.

… And those ‘best’ Edinburgh jokes (or should we say one-liners)? Here are the top four:

Harry Hill - PBW's birthday treat

1) Tim Vine – “I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.”

2) David Gibson – “I’m currently dating a couple of anorexics. Two birds, one stone.”

3) Emo Philips – “I picked up a hitchhiker. You’ve got to when you hit them.”

4) Jack Whitehall – “I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say ‘bought’, I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid.”

Alison Jackson - Rubik's Cube

The last word however has to go to Picasso, as sharp as any stand-up confronting a heckler:  During World War II an inquisitive German officer was harassing him in his Parisian apartment. Noticing a photograph of Guernica lying on a table he asked the artist “did you do that?” “No, you did,” responded Picasso.
HostGator reviews

the folk outsider naive craft painting revival?

12 August 2010 § Leave a comment

A previous post on Harry Hill the Idea Generation Gallery briefly discussed the term outsider art. This was mainly in respect to some basic ‘outsider’ credentials of Hill’s work. In retrospect however the term is rather difficult to use so briefly and I have been itching to expand on this brief mention, but focusing on contemporary art and adding traditional crafts into the mix.

Grayson Perry - Walthamstow Tapestry 1995


This is not an overview of ‘outsider’ art since the terms attached to it are so broad, have been so widely misused and applied in a casual manner. Outsider, Naive, Folk, Visionary, Neuve Invention, Art Brut, Marginal, Intuitive are all variously used in connection with it, and have been used in varying ways in different places. Raw Vision has done a good job of definition on their website, even if the  terms are frequently misused elsewhere.

Tracey Emin Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1995


Most interesting to me is the steady resurgence in interest not only in the more ‘traditional’ definition of this art but its latest incarnation within recent contemporary art. The deeply unfashionable nature of the naive/folk/craft tradition within the post-war art scene was especially attractive as a basis for rebellion for some British artists of the 1990’s. The award of the Turner Prize to Grayson Perry in 2003 brought this theme to the fore and, despite her disgust at the award to Perry, Tracey Emin’s wall-hangings and tent also betray the same craft origins.

Harry Hill has already been discussed and there are many other artists that could be added to the list of those who draw on, or are inspired by the same traditions. In particular are those painters of ‘amateurish’ style whose star has been on the ascendant in recent years. Coming to mind immediately is Alice Neel (above) with her current retrospective at the Whitechapel. Neel uses a casual style to portray the famous as well as marginalised and vulnerable of society – immigrants, children and the elderly. The title of the exhibition, Painted Truths, demonstarates the widely held view that this more natural ‘folksy’ style somehow allows Neel a deeper psychological insight in to he mind of the sitter. The portraits cerainly reveal a fragility and the paintings are delicate and sensitive. Interestingly Neel herself led a troubled life which included mental breakdown and attempted suicide.

Karen Kilimnik


Karen Kilimnik’s loose and ‘awkward’ style, is outwardly similar although she paints not from life but using appropriated images of celebrity. She is currently showing at Sprueth Magers, London. Elizabeth Peyton paints small, intense and colourful portraits of friends, celebrity and monarchy. Like Kilimnik and Neel she has found broader acceptance only since the 1990’s. More recently there are artists like Ryan Mosley who combines multiple traditions to create mysterious quasi-mystical worlds and Lynette Boakye who produces naive and dark portrait of imaginary characters, have also appeared on the scene amongst many more.

Harry Hill - Time is Running Out


None of this adds up to a movement, and many of the artists have of course been successful and well established for many years. Nevertheless the trend is there for all to see – the Whitechapel has had major shows featuring Neel and Peyton in the last twelve months, Kilimnik was at the Serpentine a couple of years back and features in the current Saatchi imagazine, which also includes a substantial article entitled ‘The Folk Spirit in Contemporary Art’. Last but not least, the subject of the original posting, Harry Hill manages a few pages in the latest isue of Tate etc. I could mention many more artists and more exhibitions, but it is clear that the influence of these traditional and ‘outsider’ styles is here to stay – at least for a while yet with investment in this area less speculative and more reliable.

If you liked this post please make a comment or like it. If you like the blog please subscribe for regular updates (top right of page). Many thanks! akuta

harry hill at the idea generation gallery

20 July 2010 § 3 Comments

A couple of weeks back I snuck my way through the achingly trendy back streets of Shoreditch to visit an auction in aid of the Ray Lowry foundation. Manchester-born, Lowry began his career drawing for publications like Punch, OZ, NME and Private Eye creating a cult following for his illustrations and cartoons. Most famously he designed the memorable cover art work for The Clash’s seminal album, London Calling

Hosted by the Idea Generation Gallery a mix of artists, performers and writers were invited to donate a work using the album sleeve as a starting point. Amongst these was a colourful acrylic painting by Harry Hill where the members of the Clash are represented by subterranean heads from which the ‘tree’ of Big Ben prospers in a barren desert and mountain landscape – fantastic, surreal, witty and yet straight to the point. I thought it brilliant.

At this juncture I need to explain that a couple years back I stumbled across his art tucked away in a gallery page on the Harry Hill web site. Sitting amongst links to the latest tour dates, merchingdice (sic) and video clips was a page featuring Hill’s paintings. I was instantly bewitched by their naïve style highly reminiscent of ‘outsider’ artists like William Hawkins, William Blayney and, most obviously Howard Finster.

Howard Finster

I am a great fan of ‘outsider art’ (the term overlaps with folk/naïve/visionary art) and the highlight of last years exhibitions was, for me, the Museum of Everything. A free, curated show in a ramshackle venue, it brought together the best of ‘secret creativity by the unknowns of society’. Currently touring in Turin, I urge everyone who is able to jump on a plane and visit!

William Hawkins

Clearly Hill is not an ‘unknown of society’ – except perhaps in Summerville Georgia, the hometown of Finster – but the term ‘outsider art’ has now tended to be applied to all those painting in a ‘folk’ or ‘naïve’ style. Humour has also played a big part in 20th century art from Duchamp’s original ‘joke’ – the fountain/urinal – via Manzoni’s sh*t, and Prince’s jokes. A good current example is David Shrigley, who is a quoted influence of Hill, and categorically proves that blatant humour is not a turn-off in the art world of today. The same folk and craft traditions  have also snuck their way in to the contemporary art scene by way of other highly regarded artists like Grayson Perry, Simon Starling and Tracey Emin (I will write more on this in coming weeks). Ultimately though, Hill, whether painting as an ‘outsider’ or with post-modern humour, there is no reason that he should not be accepted as a quality artist and I personally would welcome the chance to view an exhibition of his work.

David Shrigley

Oh, and by the way, in a ferocious auction bidding war, I managed to win the Harry Hill (and a Humphrey Ocean) – and all in a good cause!

If you liked this post please make a comment or like it. If you like the blog please subscribe for regular updates (top right of page). Many thanks! akuta

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with harry hill at a kick up the arts.

%d bloggers like this: