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New Contemporaries

16 Jan

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2010, at the ICA this year, is a large group exhibition of new art talent; recent graduates.  Hence it is a pretty diverse exhibition and hence feels much like an art school show.  The layout of the ICA galleries furthers this feel of fitting into particular spaces within an institution.  There are however some interesting pieces in the exhibition which suggest a discourse of emptiness, of something lacking perhaps, whilst on the other hand being an exploration of contrasting textures. 

Nick Bailey’s Safe seems rather dumb, a mute casket to which we are not provided access.  We might wonder what could be inside it, but particularly when seen alongside Dials Slightly to the Right, it seems the form itself is the focus of this work; a solid, black box protruding from the wall.  Perhaps it brings Kasimir Malevich‘s studies into a three dimensional form.

Matthew Coombes’ Site Receiver: Untitiled (2009) makes clever use of simple materials; smooth hardboard cut at asymmetric angles contrasted with the texture of anti-climb paint.  This creates a void in the wall somewhat like an Anish Kapoor piece exhibited in the last British Art Show at the Hayward Gallery.  It also seems like it would absorb sound like an open mouth, either rendering it dead or perhaps creating absurd refracted echos, whilst the walls of the nearby screening rooms have been hung with things that look like box canvases to absorb sound that could be similar works.

There are also themes of deconstruction and devaluation of the cultural currency portrayed within the exhibition.  Kiwoun Shin’s Dis_illusion_Coin_Faces (2009) takes this particularly literally as an act of deconstructing coins, grinding away their status into bear shards of material with similar textural contrasts between shiny, polished, finished coin and ground remains; a highly political act.

Meanwhile, Rowena Harris’s Junior-deluxe-handy (2009) deconstructs a hand-held vacuum cleaner whilst her concrete addition seems to render anything sucked up into a permanent construction, unable to leave.  Here a narrow piece of kitchen worktop adds to a zig-zag alternation between smoothly painted plinth, rough chipboard, smooth melamine surface, bubbly concrete and shiny plastic.  These artists have something of the Arte Povera about them, in the choice of materials, but then that perhaps references their early career finances.

The exhibition runs until January 23rd 2011.

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