Wednesday, 1 July 2015



The Duchess of Cornwall ascends to the Royal Academy Annual Dinner via Jim Lambie's central staircase,
Photo: Thomas Alexander/Royal Academy/PA 
 I first saw Jim Lambie's work in a London gallery about 15 years ago, and knew this was an occasion I would never forget. Now at the Summer Exhibition the Scottish artist again engages the viewer at an emotional, intuitive level.  He uses familiar materials sourced locally, in this case brightly coloured  vinyl strips  laid down as tape)  to transform the magnificent and at times intimidating main staircase of London's Royal Academy of Art.

The  different colours push and pull against each other. Steps appear to  advance and recede before our very eyes. Rev Dr  Richard Davey wrote in his introductory essay in the Exhibition catalogue A Masterclass in Looking:  ‘the colours  appear to ripple and breathe from side to side. pushing at the walls and balustrades like waves breaking on a shore'.

“While you are walking, the art underfoot is both a dance floor and the music itself “.
Adrian Searle, Guardian 2003

So you enter the main building of the Royal Academy and are faced with treading on this insubstantial shifting world of colour.  We may be used to stepping on tessellated floors in churches and mosques, but nothing prepares us for this. The zigzagged,  edged rings of concentric colours lead us step by step into the exhibition.When we get to the top we discover that Michael Craig-Martin, who co-ordinated the show, has also transformed parts of the building: we are surrounded by walls painted an intense buttercup yellow. Beyond that, art in the octagonal Wohl Central Hall hangs on a vivid turquoise background,  the Lecture Room is a spacious airy light blue, and Gallery III 'has been brought to life with  an electric magenta that animates without overwhelming the paintings hung on the wall' ( Richard Davey)

 'Sometimes when you dig for meaning you end up in a hole. 
The answer, I suspect, is to simply relax about it all Adrian Searle, Guardian 2003      for sense of shifting movment        for more about Richard Davey


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