Issue Number: 95
Exhibitions of work by recent art school graduates can offer a fast track to the contemporary scene. Leader of the pack this year, in size at least, is ‘Free Range’ at London’s Old Truman Brewery. With over 60 exhibitions taking place within ten spaces, this compendium of work from art and design colleges across the country has an inclusive policy that means you have to apply your own quality control, but you can make discoveries in the process.
Last year, Lauren Porter hit the headlines with her handknitted life-size Ferrari. This year, look out for Lucinda Chua’s wistful photographs, George Barron’s innovative graphic design and Julian McGuffie’s reclaimed furniture.
Graduates from the RA Schools are popping up all over town. Jesse Leroy Smith exhibits eerie portraits in the RA café this August. Five artists recently held a successful group show at the Notting Hill Gallery, Artwork Productions, which supports emerging artists. Curated by Flora Fairbairn, this included Guillermo Caivano, whose mystical images, like The Ardent (above), have been compared to Sickert’s by senior RA Schools’ tutor Richard Kirwan.
This summer, Caivano holds his first solo show at Ibid Projects, and displays work in ‘Anticipation’, a group exhibition of young artists, co-curated by Fairbairn. ‘The underlying feature is that all these artists display a maturity beyond their years,’ she says. ‘The work shows that young artists are much more focused on technique than in recent years.’
Caivano, a Spaniard, reminds us of the international flavour of the RA Schools, as do his fellow alumna, the Swedish painter Katarina Forss and the German print-based artist Liane Lang, who also exhibit works in ‘Anticipation’. A further measure of diversity is the variety of materials that artists are using.
Lucy Williams is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with her mixed-media images. ‘A sky may be woven; a gravel path made of lentils,’ says Kirwan. Williams has exhibited in New York, won critical praise at Frieze, and has a solo show this September at the prestigious Timothy Taylor Gallery.
So, are there any unifying characteristics to this new generation? Kirwan cites RA graduates’ increased ambition. Catriona Warren, a co-curator of ‘Anticipation’, suggests there has been a return to the handmade craft of art to the relief, perhaps, of the more traditional of art lovers among us.
‘You can no longer just throw together a pile of stones,’ she says. ‘Skill is definitely back in again.’
Free Range, The Old Truman Brewery, London (020 7770 6100) 31 May–23 July;
Anticipation, Gallery One One One, 111 Great Titchfield Street, London (0207 637 0868), until 9 June;
Jesse Leroy Smith, Café Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts (020 7300 8000), 3 Aug–25 Oct;
Guillermo Caivano, Ibid Projects, London (0208 983 4355), until 27 May;
Artwork Productions (www.artworkproductions.net)
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