Very few of today's most popular art institutions aee as traditional as the Royal Academy; indeed, it is a contemporary trend for today's art museums to be as current and as state-of-the-art as can be imagined. Displayed in the main galleries, Hockney is the show of the moment in town but in the Burlington Gardens gallery that backs onto the RA - in the building that was once the Museum of Mankind, and that was once Haunch of Venison - the old lady of fine art exhibition shows us just what it is that keeps her so fresh and so appealing.
Premiums is interim show of the students of the Royal Academy school. This two-year studio practice in Fine Arts training is one of the strongest in the country. A very exclusive course (only seventeen students are selected from over a thousand applications), the school prides itself on the quality of the work produced by the artists in residence. Regular readers will know of the affinity I have for student exhibitions, but interim shows can be very unstable situations.
This show is really rather good, and bodes very well for the Royal Academy school over the coming year, and for London-based fine art enthusiasts in the longer term. The museum is a large and difficult space to fill, success has evaded much more established artists in the past, and though the work presented here falls into similar traps at points the overall quality and impact remains. A single-channel video by Adham Faramawy dominates proceedings and though it is by no means the best work on show (nor even the best moving image work) it indicates towards a well-considered practice made manifest and speaks to the mind of a very modern man. Because were delighted by the minimalist conceptual effort developed by Prem Sahib in a series of works that would be some of the strongest in almost any given exhibition context. Exposing a common space (in this aspect, a live/work studio) through its most mundane features made glaringly explicit, the idea that good artists make very simple conceits look daringly easy in execution, but that the artist can express and is able to place him- or herself within an evident art historical context is a strong characteristic of this work. These are not easy things to manage, but are indicative of an exciting future for art lovers, and, for an interim show, you really can't ask for anything more.
Premiums is on at the Royal Academy of Art between 02 - 15 March.