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Salon des Refusés 2018

8 June 2018 | Suzanne Frost

In 19th century Paris, the annual Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris was arguably the greatest annual art event in the Western world. The Jury selecting from the submitted artworks was very conservative in taste and in 1863, works by artists such as Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet were rejected, leaving the artists furious. Emperor Napoleon, eager for public approval, decided that the rejected artist’s works should be displayed in a Salon des Refusés, for the public to decide on their artistic legitimacy.

Inspired by the Paris Salon, Happenstance Art & Framing, an independent pop-up gallery and framing studio run by Anastasia Popoola, launched London’s Salon des Refusés in 2012, displaying the artworks that were unsuccessfully submitted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Image: Suzanne Frost

This year, the exhibition is taking place at Candid Arts Trust in Islington. Over 150 international artists have submitted work this year making it the most extensive display yet. With no restrictions on submission, visitors can experience a huge variety of genres, from oil painting to photography, ceramics to sculpture and digital art. The Salon des Refusés is showing the true variety of art that is made nowadays and the freedom of artistic expression.

 Image: Suzanne Frost

While many entries are by as yet unknown or emerging artists, some artists have been included in previous or subsequent RA Summer Exhibitions. Some, such as Kate Jenkins’ fabulous sequined Tinned Lobster Bisque, were shortlisted; others were selected and then excluded at the last minute for various reasons. The Salon des Refusés is making a statement that these submitters were not refused as artists.

Image: Suzanne Frost
 
Some work, such as Errol Robertson’s Stairway to Heaven is politically motivated, an artistic critique painting an unsentimentalised portrait of the realities of ‘Precariat Britain’, an increasingly unequal society in which growing numbers of people find themselves victims of in–work poverty with no prospect of social mobility. But there are also traditional oil paintings and more lighthearted playful expressions. All art at the Salon des Refusés is for sale and fairly reasonably priced, giving the display an emerging art fair vibe similar to The Other Art Fair or Battersea’s Affordable Art Fair, where your eye is stimulated by the sheer variety on offer and you are always sure to find something that you like.
 
True to the spirit of the original Parisian idea, the Salon des Refusés encourages visitors to vote for their 3 favourite art works on social media using the hashtag #VoteSalon. “We believe in truly democratic art”, says Anastasia Popoola, “It can be quite surprising what the public votes for.” The popular vote is often quite different from the official expert’s selection.
 
The Salon des Refusés 2018 is at Candid Arts Trust, Islington until Sunday 10 June. Entry is free.
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