Yinka Shonibare's new mural celebrates The Royal Academy's inclusivity and vitality, yet some have seen this portrayal as false and misleading.
The Royal Academy has just unveiled a vast public artwork that incorporates images and significant persons from its 248-year history. Yinka Shonibare’s upbeat work portrays a subversive institution, one that has been at the cutting of contemporary art in Britain. According to the RA, Shonibare’s mural reveals the rich tapestry of activity which takes place behind these walls. From the renowned exhibitions, public debates, artists’ gatherings and stylish social events, to the more private making of art by RA Schools’ students. This spread of images is topped by one of Shonibare’s signature colorful fabric designs, selected as a sign of The Royal Academy's universal inclusiveness.
However, Jonathan Jones writing for the Guardian has lambasted this radical portrayal of the RA as a “home to subversives, not to mention a citadel of multiculturalism and equality.” Seeing that it is in fact a club for “tired establishment artists whose annual summer show is the art equivalent of a vicarage tea party”. The artist himself has claimed that: "Until I was a Member I always thought the Academy was quite mysterious. With this work I’m trying to bring the inside outside.”