The Future Can Wait and Saatchi’s New Sensations are two shows that take place at the same time in the spectacular basement of Victoria House. The former is of better quality than the former for the art is made by more experience and talented artists while the latter is the result of the ‘imagination of the most imaginative and talented young artists in the UK’.
The problem with ‘The Future Can Wait’ is that Its curator Zavier Ellis represents at least half of the artists and not only that but he has been including those same artists in this show for years. Having said that, I am starting to understand what this Old Street hipster (Mr.Ellis) means by ‘The Future Can Wait’ because although one can see an evolution in these artists, the truth is that they seem to be stagnated in their careers. I guess the problem with these two simultaneous shows is that they try (and fail) to construct their identity in opposition to Frieze Art Fair (which is happening at the same time) but they happen at the same time because they want to sell. ‘The Future Can Wait’ functions as Zavier Ellis’ imaginary Frieze Art Fair booth without having to go through the admission process and paying that much money. I must say that, from that point commercial point of view, it is not a bad idea but not much more than that.
Let’s start with Saatchi’s New Sensations. To assess how bad this show is one must take into account that ‘it was launched seven years ago to support the most imaginative and talented young artists in the UK and to present their work to an international audience during Frieze Week. The Prize is now established in the UK as the most important annual prize for emerging artists, and it showcases each year the best graduates studying at UK and Republic of Ireland art schools’. Well, let me tell you something…No!
After wandering around Saatchi’s New Sensations, I had the feeling that I had to talk about this exhibition as if I were talking about a fashion show. In fact, I could summarise it in the following way: ‘the trend this season is a mix of, on one side, painting as installation and on the other, a plethora of kaleidoscopic patterns presented as abstract’. However, the paintings are bad and the abstract art comes far too close to bad wall paper. Upon arrival one is confronted with the inability of today’s fine arts graduates to paint. I am saying this because even though there is an almost unanimous effort to paint, the outcome is, to say it plainly, horrendous.
The paintings are usually gestural and unnecessarily big with vague references to conceptual artists that are so iconic that turns the whole exercise into a cliché. Viven Zhang is a deformed and rushed version of Matthew Collings and Emma Biggs’ abstractions. Making those grids is a matter of painstaking patience which she does not have. Nicholas Johnson creates a multi-layered painting that is supposed to allegorise memory but comes across as messy and pointless. There is no structure or composition in his images. Jack Tondrow’s paintings are preposterous for they are a mixed homage to Tal R and Lucio Fontana (?) without daring to explore any of the issues tackled by his allusions.
Even worse are Jonathan Lux’ stains on canvas. They Glenn Brown-esque anthropomorphic concoctions that do not justify their size. What is wrong with these people? By contrast, Mollie Douthit presents this delicate (oriental?) landscapes which are so feng shui that flirt with kitsch and are the kind of Ibid Projects miniature figurativism that looks dated and pointless.
Jonathan Lux’s expressionistic concoctions cannot possible be from ‘one of the most imaginative and talented young artists in London’. Period. I just want to believe that that is not true. Stephen Marshall is another example of those pictorial installations that do not make sense either as aesthetic objects or conceptual exercises. HIs work is honestly horrible. Laura Cohen’s expressionistic theatrical images of people chilling are interesting but no more than that.
Roderick Laperdrix’s graphite and ink on paper exercises do not have the quality to be in such a show. They are pretentious in their Samuel Becketti-ish theatricality. Stapled to the wall, they are large papers with the contour of a human figure and a tree. They pose as a portrait ghostly emerging from the whiteness of the materials but, in fact, are the result of sheer laziness. Having said that, the winner of the worst painting I have seen in a long time is Aimée Henderson and her appallingly bad ‘pieces of paper’ priced at a lofty £1000/ She should be sent to Syria to get married to a Jihadist and possibly sent into a mission. No discussion about that. So these are the painters!
Let’s talk now about the abstract painters and artists and the trend of kaleidoscopic images probably inspired in Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’ video. Let’s start by Lauren Cohen who adapts this patters to ‘the art of quilt’ (?) and tries to inject some kind of allegorical meaning but fails. Then we have Felicity Hammond who transforms these images into a horrible and pointless object and Stephen Marshall’s labyrinth ?) which are dull and irrelevant.
Then we have those artists that explore the porousness of different media. , for example, attempts at transforming painting into totemic objects to then integrate them into a Van Gogh-ish painting uses far too many resources to justify bad paintring.
Finally there are a few pieces that are more interesting. The best example and in my opinion the best piece in the whole show is Charles Richardson’s Rehearsal which is a video animation with a floating bust/mask that is looked at, in the round, by the camera.There is a surprise factor in the way that the bust becomes a mask and the video becomes a sculpture.
The other ‘artist’ that uses video is Colette Egan. Her multi media effort pales if compared to Richardson. In her case, her animation video is the feminine topos of the book being written in front of the viewer. Groundbreaking.
The other piece that I was surprised to like was Sarah Roberts’ ‘ETO? O Borth -Again? which is a Thomas Hirschhornesque installation that includes a portable air con. Hey ho. There is something interesting in the fact that in excessively hot basement, the artist had the deference to put include some air con. To summarise, do not waste your time because this can hardly be the best young art in Britain and if that is the case, we are fucked! J A T
WATCH MY IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW WITH SWISS ARTIST ANGELA LYN