Almost Real Art: A Satirical Archaeology of the RA Collections and Library by Mark Hampson
Since 2010, artist Mark Hampson has been working 'in residence' at the Royal Academy and from his studio in Kent on a collaboration with the RA Collections, Library and Archives. Exploring the RA’s holdings during this two-year period, he has created a satirically inspired 'archaeological' response to its complexities of information and histories. The resulting work exploits and distorts the 'official' biography of the RA, corrupting the apparent facts to produce newly imagined narratives that are rooted in the lives and works of some of the great artists who have been connected with the Academy.
Hampson’s imaginings take concrete form in a series of mock-historical artworks combining image and text, made in collaboration with commercial sign-makers. Alongside these, the artist offers up alternative versions of art societies, unions and academies that encourage us to ask why places like the RA exist, how its history has shaped it, and how different it might have been had it been subjected to other influences and ideas. Registering the enormous impact that individual personalities have had on the institution, he explores the clichéd image of the Romantic artist as eccentric, obsessive and self-mythologising. Throughout, however, Hampson’s satire is balanced by a deep affection for the institution and those who have made it, a feeling which has only grown the deeper he has probed its history.
Bringing together high and folk art, the fairground and the museum, history and anachronism, fact and fakery, Hampson has produced what he describes with characteristic ambiguity as 'almost real art'.
Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket or £3 General Admission ticket. RA Friends go free.
In the Tennant Gallery