Emerging Art: 10 Smart Buys in London This Spring
Information for curious connoisseurs.
The contemporary art market seems more confusing then ever. Auction records reach new heights with each season. Rubbing shoulders with the stars of the auction block, bright young things are pushed forward by rings of investors—flippers—keen to maximize a quick return on investment. Ever more graduates emerge from art school each year, and careers are done and undone virtually from one art fair to the next.
In this hot house climate, what is the place of the connoisseurs—those who want to support promising talent (and have the means to do so) without necessarily having a neat three-year plan for resale? What should they buy?
In this feature, artnet News attempts to demystify the much bandied-about “emerging artists” category and market. Who should we be looking at? How much does the work cost? We asked some of London’s most exciting young gallerists, which artist, in their opinion, is a smart buy.
The Lebanese artist Ziad Antar is best-known for a series of photographs taken on film stock, which expired in the mid-1970s. Shot on a 1948 Kodak Reflex II camera, these grainy images place their subjects in a new kind of temporality, removed from the immediacy usually associated with the medium. Antar, whose work is already in the collection of the Centre George Pompidou in Paris and works in London with Selma Feriani, experimented with the idea of the tourist image, taking his camera from Cairo to New York and London where he shot this Tower Bridge (2012), priced at £7,500.
Majed Aslam reconciles the tropes of the Internet age with the legacy of expressionist painting. In the Remodelled Photographs series, the artist uses acetone to erase pictures he downloaded online, turning them into lyrical swathes of sweet pastels. In his most recent body of work, Anti-Perspirant (on view at Paradise Row from June 7) the artist attacks stock images of droplets. Much noticed recently at Art Dubai and Art Brussels, Aslam’s work ranges from £2,000 to £3,500. This fetching piece Untitled (2014) comes with a £3,250 price tag.
Balmforth’s work is undoubtedly fun—an obelisk loses its top (Failed Obelisk, 2009), his Gallium Dagger (2012) would melt in any hands as the light metal’s liquefaction point is below body temperature—but this lightness of touch shouldn’t distract from the seriousness of his endeavor. The artist, who is represented by Hannah Barry Gallery, tackles one of the perennial problems of sculpture: the nature and possibilities of his materials, which he explores with an insatiable curiosity. Gold, volcano ash, and semi-precious stones are only a few of the things he’s turned to. Pieces such as this Phase Boundary 3 (2014, pictured), hover between the tradition of sculpture and abstract painting. It is made of fat and gallium, and comes with £3,800 price tag.
A new addition to Rod Barton’s roster, Portland-based painter Luc Fuller recently graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Fuller focuses his brushes on symbols and the way they create, lose, and acquire meaning. His current exhibition at Rod Barton in London riffs on the iconic “W” of the rap group Wu Tang, who recently hit the headlines when they announced only one copy of their latest album would be released and would sell for millions. Touching on issues such as rarity, authenticity, and distribution, Fuller repeats the motif on a series of paintings standing upright, like a crowd or a dancing audience. Prices for the artist range from £2,800 to £7,500. This Untitled (Standing Painting) (2014) measures 163.5 x 112 cm and is among the artist’s largest pieces available.
Hatfull collects signs, images, and symbols linked to the food industry, later recycling them in paintings and assemblages. Although demonstrating a clear Pop sensibility, his production is closer in tone to the work of some of the early Surrealists, attempting to free poetic force from everyday flotsam. Prices for Hatfull range from £4,500 to £10,000. This Smallholding (shade above sea level) (2014), priced at £6,500, was plucked from his first solo show at Josh Lilley.
Based between Lisbon and London, Bruno Pacheco has gained a strong following for his intriguing figurative paintings, always displacing the subjects they most obviously tackle. Pacheco’s work will be included in the next São Paulo Biennial, but meanwhile it can be seen at Hollybush Gardens’ Sunshine and Sentiment, which features this endearing oil on canvas, Camel Perhaps from 2014 (£9,000).
Heather Phillipson is a poet as well as an artist, working with Rowing. In her videos, sculptures, and installations, she combines fragments of information gleaned on- and offline, in a series of shifts in narrative perspective, all rendered in the saturated hues of touch screen technologies. Phillipson’s videos such as immediately and for a short time balloons weapons too-tight clothing worries of all kinds (2014) sell for £5,000 (edition of 5), while elements from the installation range from £1,000 to £10,000.
Only 30, Mary Ramdsden comes with an impressive pedigree. Recent exhibitions for this abstract painter with a particular knack for color combination include the Saatchi Gallery, the über-trendy Moving Museum, and Britain’s New Contemporaries. Ramsden’s practice functions on the most subtle of changes, on the edge separating different zones in the picture plane, and the slightest shifts in hues. The work of this Pilar Corrias protégé currently goes for between £3,000 and £10,000. An oil on canvas like Anopisthography 2 (2013, pictured), is priced at £7,000.
The work of the Viennese Alex Ruthner oscillates between figuration and abstraction, in an almost compulsive accumulation of marks and signs. Although anchored in the digital, Ruthner has a strong commitment to print, demonstrated in his continued production of fanzines, catalogues, and the magazine Eine, which he publishes from Vienna. Ruthner’s work will be on show at Ibid Projects from May 23, in an exhibition including this work, The Leader in a group (2014), priced at £6,000.
Jesse Wine belongs to the young generation of artists that has reappropriated the creative potential of ceramics. The immediacy of clay modelling, added to the chance element of any glazing process, allow for an exploration of the push-and-pull between project and product. Wine’s ceramics are often given a resolutely contemporary tone with their title such as Soz babes LOL II (2014, pictured), which is priced at £4,000. Wine is represented by Limoncello Gallery.
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