Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Contemporaries 06

This year's talent-spotting roundup benefits immensely from being housed in the old school building on Club Row, part of the organisation's new office premises based at Rochelle School, just behind Redchurch Street. It's a large two storey building with several well proportioned rooms, some warreny corridors, an atmospheric upstairs space and just the right level of dishevelment to make art sing. The work this year is the usual mixed up bag of art school obsessions that tends to reflect the movement of the art marfket more generally. So there are abstract/conceptual films (the best being Tom Price's subtle animation of naturalistic heads, like an animated Warhol screen test), colourful blobby paintings, large lumpy sculptures etc etc. There is a definite sense of materials being important once again, with a lot of handmade or hand crafted objects and very very few arm's length dematerialised projects. The Royal College and Goldsmiths dominate procedings as usual.

A few pieces stood out for me: a large unapologetic print of donkeys, the shelf of paper cut out sculptures like the results of a kid's workshop, the animation mentioned above, Jessie Flood-paddock's (great name!) Philip Guston inspired clay sculptures, and finally Laura Morrison's paintings and painted objects (see image above) that struck the right balance between all sorts of different poles (interestingly she is a graduate of the Chelsea Diploma course which had such a good degree show earlier this year, bettering the MA by some distance). The show makes no great claims for itself. It's just a collection of stuff that caught the selectors' eye. But it works as a purely aesthetic experience and resembles nothing so much as a really good disparate MA student exhibition.


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