After the colourful razzamatazz of Grayson Perry’s Summer Exhibition in 2018, this year’s show promises to be just as lively, diverse and quirky with acclaimed British painter Jock McFadyen Royal Academy of Arts at the helm.

McFayden’s empty, decayed urban landscapes can have the slight whiff of Ballardian dystopia and their monumental size gives the impression of unlimited space. Buildings are abandoned, scrawled with graffiti and gradually being reclaimed by natural vegetation. Yet these are sobering, perhaps prophetic visions, also convey grandeur.

During the 1990s McFadyen found a ‘soulmate’ in the writer Iain Sinclair whose psycho-geographical books mirrored the artist’s preoccupation with East London and the Thames estuary. Prior to this McFadyen worked with the novelists Howard Jacobson and Will Self on prints and booklets. In 2004, the artists collaborated with Sinclair and others to create an exhibition about the A13 at the Wapping Project.
The Central Hall of this year’s Summer Exhibition includes what McFayden calls a ‘menagerie’ showing animal-themed works by the likes of Polly Morgan, Charles Avery and Mat Collishaw. Jane and Louise Wilson RA have organised two gallery spaces, one of display work inspired by light and time, while the Architecture Gallery, curated by Spencer de Grey RA, explores the topical theme of sustainability.

Other well-known artists who have created some of the 1200 works in this year’s show include: the anarchic Jeremy Deller; YBAs Marcus Harvey, Tracey Emin and Gary Hume; the sculptor and land artist David Nash; German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans; artist and printmaker Chris Orr; the American painter James Turrell; sculptor and visual artist Hew Locke; conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin; sculptor and artist John Wragg RA; German filmmaker and photographer Wim Wenders, whose panoramic photographs will be on show in the free McAulay Gallery; and, lastly, that colossus of the art world, German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer.

The Summer Exhibition is always entertaining, ever colourful and sometimes controversial – but never boring. Part of the London Season, it promises, as ever, to be a lively art party which could easily lead on to a glass or two of bubbly in the Poster Bar or Senate Room.

The 251st Summer Exhibition is on show at the Royal Academy of Arts from 10 June to 12 August 2019. royalacademy.org.uk

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