RA 252nd Summer Exhibition

 

Royal Academy of Art
Summer 2019

In 1769 the Royal Academy first set about creating a space for showcasing new works of art, two hundred fifty two consecutive  years of discovering, exhibiting and promoting  contemporary art to the public. The Summer Exhibition is the longest open call opportunity for artists of all rank to present their vision to the Academy and to the world. 

That is quite an impressive feat.

Through the centuries this progressive mission became associated with an institution that might have seemed stodgy and which one rebelled against. I’m guessing all that has changed , I really do not know but for a boy growing up in New Jersey the tales of Varnishing Day, the glamour of opening day, the imagined pithy comments from Oscar Wilde, all created a siren’s call impossible to resist.

I’ve dreamt of submitting for years (decades) but hadn’t the nerve. I still lack the nerve but this year I submitted anyway. It wasn’t an overnight decision. At my solo show last year I met a British couple enthusiastic about my work, amidst their welcomed flattery they pulled out their phones and showed me glimpses of the Summer Exhibition 2018 fantastically curated by Grayson Perry, encouraging me to submit my work for they felt it would be right at home. It was exhilarating  this thought, feeling so out of place in Los Angeles, adrift in where to next turn, it seemed a dream;  this Royal Academy was FAR from stodgy, far from my conceived notions of what “academic” art was. This was a magical place of wild color, classical architecture, and wall after overcrowded wall of diverse and distinct art just begging for attention. I was floored. This was an oasis, far removed from the frequently tedious , muted, reserved, overly-curated, predictable  gallery exhibitions found here in surprisingly conservative , tight-laced and conventional Los Angeles.

When we visited London for the first time last summer the RA Summer Exhibition 2019 was a must-see. I had already toyed with the notion of submitting after having seen glimpses of  the Perry show but heading into solemnly magnificent Burlington House, situated in glamorous Piccadilly, in the very heart of London, then finding inside these impressive walls an abundance of art, art of all sorts, a staggering diversity of material, style and approach, all this sealed the deal.I was immediately convinced that I must at least try. 

The long anticipated open call was announced this week on Monday. I was prepared and at the gate: all work freshly documented; a revised, suitably Anglophilic artist statement self-consciously composed; measurements and prices converted to metric and pounds. I was ALMOST confident. Nervously I typed in all the necessary information, exhibition submissions are always harrowing for me, but because this was so personally important it  was especially so. But I soldiered on, all in order, all checked, double and triple checked, and then just when I attempted to pay the entry fee (entry fee is due before you can submit) I hit a wall, an unmovable glowing , unyielding wall on my laptop screen.

ERROR, error, error, unable to process. I tried again and again, rechecking triple checking every entry information, David checked, my publicist checked, we resubmitted, shut down, rebooted, cleared cookies and caches (whatever the heck they are), different browsers, computers, laptops, I-phones all to know avail. I contacted the RA support, they responded but  the suggestions made proved unfruitful. I despaired, over-reacted, overwrought and self-pitying I was convinced I of course wasn’t worthy to even submit to the RA. I was such a loser they wouldn’t even take my money. In my pathetic state, eager to have them like me I became a Friend of the Academy…something I wanted to do anyway, but felt , hey, they’ll see I’m not some obnoxious self absorbed American.  All absurd of course, it was some glitch, my rational brain knew this but I possessed such desire to just submit that I became quite abject in my disappointment and despair. It was resolved of course, my subsequent, pitiful emails were returned , a helpful assistant recognized the problem immediately and the Error message miraculously disappeared. With the error corrected (my fault of course) all was well, the submission window hadn’t suddenly closed in twenty four hours as I had ridiculously obsessed over, fees were paid, all was processed, entered, and the submit button nervously pressed.

The glitch? I had spelled out “California” instead of the required CA…damn California.

If I was irrationally anxious about the submission, I was irrationally proud of myself for actually having completed the task. The work that follows is what I, in the end , decided upon submitting. Perhaps not the wisest choices or most prudent, for they are large and unwieldy , and if the heavens allow and I am ,on the slimmest chance, shortlisted, the work will need to be seen up close and personal. This will be enormously expensive, but let me tend to that when and if it must be tended to. For now I will bask in the glow of an overly inflated sense of accomplishment.

I will receive first round results mid March …wish me luck. 

Goblin Market
2017
Oil on canvas
122 by 152 by 5 cm
48 by 60 by 2 inches
Goblin Market, detail
Goblin Market, detail

 

Robin Goodfellow
2018
Mixed media: acrylic painted canvas, recycled fabric, embroidery floss, pipe/plywood interior structure, Poly-fil
161 by 92 by 81 cm
63 by 36 by 32 inches
Robin Goodfellow, reverse
Robin Goodfellow, in situ

I will close with a happy memento from our visit last summer , my Herakles and that Farnese imposter.

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

8 thoughts on “RA 252nd Summer Exhibition”

  1. You have worked so hard and your work has progressed so amazingly through the years, your effort of just submitting to this show is a great inspiration and I’m wishing the best for you.

    1. Thank you for that encouragement. I appreciate your keeping fingers crossed . My thought is that this will not be my only submission, I anticipate a lifetime of entries.

  2. Dear Leonard, I’m sooo glad you submitted this image, it’s absolutely fantastic! Best of luck with the submission. You have a unique and marvellous vision and you can be sure nobody will be submitting anything like it, which means I think you’re in with a better chance than many. Most of all congrats on getting the application completed, I’m too much of a chicken to even enter lol 😉

    1. Thank you for that . It was so helpful attending last year , I found the work there so inspiring and encouraging; I felt kinship with more than a few works . I hope you do submit , your work is so wonderful. Plus if we were to be submitted I would just be so delighted to at last meet you !

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