Royal Academy (2019)

Jane and Louise Wilson RA hung works by just five artists in the Small Weston Room at the RA Summer Exhibition 2019. These were centered around a sublimely atmospheric work by the internationally renowned Honorary Academician James Turrell that took several days to install.

Works by Sir Michael Craig-Martin RA depict different perspectives of two iconic twentieth century Modernist buildings, the Guggenheim in New York and Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. Alongside sits Newo-concreto (PTO1), a sculpture by David Bathelor, who argues in his book Chromophobia, that the fear of contamination through colour lurks in much of Western cultural thought. Le Corbusier, for example, rejected ornamentation and the ‘narcotic haze’ of colour in favour of clean, rational, shadowless white. Batchelor’s work can be seen as a wry comment on a cosmopolitan taste that privileges white.

The other exhibited works play with ideas of translucency, line and colour (or its absence) using different media. Liz Rideal’s hanging image of a hovering ghostly form is also related to an architectural site; the C4th BC Temple of Jove Auxur at Terracina, 130km south west of Rome. It has similar ephemeriality and fragility to Turrell’s changing diamond of light and to Richard Talbot’s finely detailed architectural pencil drawing.