In Review: RA Summer Exhibition 2023

Several members of the Lund Humphries team had the pleasure of visiting the RA Summer Exhibition this year, so we've picked out some Lund Humphries-related highlights in case you are running to the Royal Academy to catch the final days of the exhibition (or you can't get to London and want to experience it virtually)! 


Rooms I & II

Upon entering the initial exhibition room, curated by artist David Remfry RA, you are confronted by bright colours and surprising textures (notably Darcey Fleming's handwoven chair, 'Conversation 2', made from recycled twine). The selection of work feels fresh and modern, often positioning figurative alongside abstract, and provoking dialogues between extremely diverse works. Through the archway at the end of the room, looking into Room II, curated by Bill Jacklin RA, you can already identify the very distinctive colours and geometric rhythms of Joe Tilson RA's Venice paintings – more on those below! Also in Room II is Rana Begum's screenprint '88K'; you can find out more about Rana Begum's art in our recently published monograph, edited by Anita Dawood.  


After two great shows at Cristea Roberts and Marlborough galleries in London in April for the launch of our monograph on the artist by Marco Livingstone, it was lovely to see Joe Tilson’s work displayed at this year’s Summer Exhibition. Proving that his work continues to evolve over time, his vibrant The Stones of Venice, Ca' Mastelli, beckons you through the archway, and is both grand and intimate, alive and arresting, and captivating in a busy exhibition. These are but a few examples of Tilson’s work, from a career which spans six decades, and many different themes.

Above, large canvas: Joe Tilson, The Stones of Venice, Ca' Mastelli; and above left of large canvas: Ca' d'Oro 2 diptych & 3 diptych

Below, bottom right: Joe Tilson, The Stones of Venice - Ca' d'Oro 1 diptych & 4 diptych.

Room IV

Below: Hughie O'Donoghue, Night Navigator

One of the great things about the RA Summer Exhibition is the sheer variety of works, and the way that these can create changes of pace as you move from room to room. Hughie O’Donoghue’s restful, melancholy Night Navigator is a case in point, as Room IV signals a contemplative mood where the passage of time is very much the tone.

Poet Tom Paulin describes O’Donoghue’s paintings as ‘like visions’ and approached him after being moved by his painting Hammering the Earth, and has written the Preface to our forthcoming book on the artist.


Architecture in the Large Weston Room 

The Architecture exhibition, curated Peter Barber RA, and featuring the monumental construction by the late Phyllida Barlow RA, was a feast for the senses and full of diverse work: models, drawings; paintings; sculptures; etc.

Visiting in the early evening, the room was quiet initially, but later became a hive of activity as visitors explored the engrossing models and infinitely detailed architectural drawings. Read the AJ review of the Barber's room HERE.
Standing out on the pea green walls, were a wonderful collection of architectural drawings by Sir Peter Cook RA (below):


Peter Cook's work is featured in the recently published book 'Drawing Architecture: Conversations on Contemporary Archietcture', edited by Mark Dorrian, Riet Eeckhout and Arnaud Hendrickx.
Peter Cook was one of the stellar participants - including also Laura Allen, Bryan Cantley, Nat Chard, Mark Dorrian, Riet Eeckhout, Adrian Hawker, Perry Kulper, CJ Lim, Shaun Murray, Mark Smout, Neil Spiller, Natalija Subotincic, Michael Webb, Mark West and Michael Young - who took part in a series of dialogues considering drawings or drawing-related artefacts. 


Lund Humphries Heritage

Other Lund Humphries artists were also included in the show... among them, Barbara Rae RA, on whom Lund Humphries published a monograph in 2008 with texts by Gareth Wardell, Andrew Lambirth and Bill Hare (now out of print). Rae's works are distributed throughout the rooms, and they capture starkly different moods through the colour palette (though always very recognisably by Rae). Find out more about Barbara Rae in this blog from our archive.

Above, bottom: Barbara Rae, Weather Law.

Above: Barbara Rae, Snowfield.


The RA Summer Exhibition is on until 20th August 2023!