Installation view of Wohl Central Hall, Summer Exhibition 2012. Photo: John Bodkin. The co-ordinator of this year’s Summer Exhibition, Tess Jaray RA, wanted to create an impact with this first gallery in order to introduce visitors to the richness and variety of the work on display throughout the show. The red of the walls was carefully chosen as a ‘homage to Matisse’s Red Studio’, and to provide a powerful backdrop to a selection of paintings whose main concern is colour. The walls also contribute to the vibrancy of the works hung here: Ian Davenport’s Puddle Painting: Pale Lilac, Yellow (After Bonnard), for example, takes on an extraordinary energy against the red, and Derek Boshier’s Chemical Track appears to melt into the wall, the red of the canvas closely matching that of the gallery.
In this room there are also memorial displays of work by the recently deceased Royal Academicians Adrian Berg and John Hoyland. Adrian Berg revisited the subjects of two of the paintings shown here – Kew Gardens and the landscaped estate of Stourhead – many times, charting from the same viewpoint the seasonal changes that he observed, and in doing so following the late works of Monet. Berg’s rich palette and carefully worked canvases are wonderfully highlighted against the gallery walls, as are his watercolours, which confirm his considerable skill in this medium. John Hoyland is recognised as one of the best abstract painters of his generation. Both of his works here date from the 1970s, a period considered by many to have been the strongest of his long and illustrious career, during which he reconciled his direct experience of the early American Expressionist painters with his connection to the European abstract tradition.