Royal Academy success for Chichester artist Ralph Apel

Chichester artist Ralph Apel has been selected for the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy at the very first attempt.
Clare ApelClare Apel
Clare Apel

After discovering that anyone could enter art into the summer exhibition, he submitted two pieces and was thrilled when one was accepted – and even more thrilled when he discovered the judge in his particular area was Grayson Perry. Ralph’s work $64000 ENIGMA is hanging in room 5 of the Royal Academy in Piccadilly (until Aug 21), with the online version of the exhibition open longer.

Ralph has high-functioning Asperger's and started attending the community programme art sessions at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery after diagnosis: "Certainly everyone gets treated very well and certainly you are not made to feel like an outsider looking in but rather an insider looking out! It is a great place where you can express yourself within a non-judgmental framework. They will say whether the work is good but it is a non-judgmental angle and you certainly feel very comfortable there. And it has certainly helped me. It makes you feel appreciated and valued. And you can paint whatever you want. Just before the pandemic I had thought about doing this design which I entered, which is like a Rubik's Cube. I did it gouache on art paper and then I put it on my computer and tidied it up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Since David Hockney started painting on a computer they have accepted computer printouts of work. At the beginning of the year there was a call for entries so I entered two pieces and they said they would let you know by the end of April. I got two emails, the first one to say that one piece was not chosen to be shortlisted and then I got another one to say ‘we are pleased to say that your entry has been shortlisted for the final choice.’ I then had to take my artwork to London and they said that they would let you know, and I'm surprised you didn't hear my scream when they told me I was in! They took 16,500 entries and then from that 16,500 they whittled it down to about 3,500 and out of those 3,500 they whittled that down to about 900.”

As for Ralph's piece: “It looks like a Rubik's Cube but it isn't. The enigma was the cypher machine during the war, and I also went into Sudoku’s. I assigned a colour to each number so this is actually part of a Sudoku’s panel. You code with the Enigma Variations and the answer comes from the twisting.”