Taste of the West and East without a culture shock
|Encounter: The Royal Academy in Asia|
The Royal Academy (RA) has a reputation that goes back centuries. Founded in 1768 , it is an independent, peer accredited institute that promotes art and design, a guild of some sorts for renowned artists. Encounter is an exhibition, part curated and part open-call, that integrates the showing of Asian artists alongside the masters from the RA. Noticeably, Singapore artists Ng Joon Kiat and Donna Ong are also included in the curated segment.
The result of this meeting is astoundingly successful: not in the shocking visual sense, but the fluent curation that renders some kind of visual dialogue between the pieces. It would be near impossible not to find favourites. While this encounter might do what the organizers touted—instigate dialogue amongst practitioners in differing hemispheres—it should also stimulate audience’s dialogue on topics quintessential to artists. The personal, the political, the material are inescapable foci the viewer might categorise these artworks. One another level, Encounter simply means providing an opportunity for viewers to see contemporary masterpieces from the UK.
Contextualising this exhibition within the compounds of LASALLE might suggest the institution’s high aspirations, an ambition to be as established as the RA. There are two implications to the fluency I’d mentioned above. First, the gallery hang might have anestheticised my sensitivity to nuances between the artworks between the 25 Royal Academicians and 25 Asian artists. While this might suggest a universal thread that runs through contemporary art, it does reveal my own ignorance to the artists has decontextualised the artworks, resulting in a flat after taste. Second, the openness of the hanging is exactly what the title suggests: meeting unexpectedly, and leaving the evaluation of this first impression to each and every viewer. The subsequent impressions, it seems, will be up to the individual viewer to find out more and hopefully, reprised in another International exhibition in Singapore. Art Stage or Biennale, anyone?
Lasalle Galleries, 14 Sep – Sun 21 Oct 2012
Royal Academy of Arts (2012). About the RA. Accessed 9 Dec 2012 from http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/about/