Art Awards are funny things. They’re a bit like beauty pageants for art. Art appeals to different people for different reasons, so choosing which Art is ‘better’ always feels odd to me. I can go to an exhibition of one artist’s work and be drawn to one or two pieces more than others. It doesn’t mean they are the best pieces, they just speak to me more and the reasons for that can be myriad. There is often no rhyme or reason when it comes to the emotive and subconscious call of art.
Over the years I’ve been involved in a few different Art Awards. I’ve sat on various selection panels, organised two awards for our company (both now defunct but for those who’d like to know – the Art on Paper Award at Zoo Art Fair and Dubai Art Fair).
The panel ones are weird – a ton of images and artist statements are sent out and it’s down to the panel to trawl through, selecting their favourites. It’s a bit like the old form of catalogue shopping. I try my hardest to give each and every piece of art the attention and focus it deserves. If I’m tempted to skim past, I’ll go back and spend more time. I’ll google the artist, look for their social media pages and website, try to understand the wider aspect of their practice as its just too difficult to judge their work from one single image on screen.
Art Awards are good things. They bring publicity and awareness to the artist’s work, hopefully much needed sales (life is tough for artists at the best of times) and it’s something for the artist to add to their CV and art statement.
I do enjoy being involved in Awards and I was delighted to join the panel for this year’s 2019 Signature Art Award, the final winner of which is announced tonight. However this post isn’t about the winner – in fact I’m deliberately writing this post before the winner is selected; it’s about the discovery of new artists and so I’m using it as an opportunity to share their work and hopefully inspire more people to bring art into their homes!
Out of the many images that were sent to me, the five listed artists below are the ones whose work I really enjoyed finding out about.
‘TWINS WITH TULIPS’
Oil on aluminium 2018. 67 x 77cm
Tessa’s work addresses millennials and the world they face. I’m drawn to this painting for its storytelling qualities; its ambiguity adds a sense of mystery and otherworldliness. I like Tessa’s style of painting – the exaggerated features and bold use of colour appeal to me. This is a large work that would easily hold its own on a gallery wall or as a statement piece.
The paintings reflect the mood of a millennial generation: an outwardly-glossy, overly-saturated appearance betrays an underlying sense of anxiety and self-consciousness. Tessa Maudlin
Ana Sofia Restrepo
‘ON THE TRAIN’
Graphite on paper 2017. 42 x 29cm
This work appeals to me on so many levels. I love the traditional use of graphite on paper – it’s a good, honest sketch, well executed, with a fantastic composition. The artist has captured an old man lost in thought, his apple headphones a nod to the modern times, despite his own timelessness.
In public spaces, one has the chance to share a few minutes with strangers. There’s a momentary connection, and it is easy to observe each other and get a glimpse into the stories of others.
‘THE BEAUTY WE TRAP IN CAPTIVITY’
Photograph on rag paper 2018. 59 x 84.
Those who follow me on Instagram will know how much I love a cause – sustainable fashion, a low carbon footprint and a cruelty free world are three of my main focuses. This work by Emily Osborne grabbed my attention, not only for the beautiful way its lit and shot, but primarily for the strong message behind it. Although anthropomorphic, or perhaps, because it is anthropomorphic, it touches my soul with such depth and poignancy. Its images like this one that can really drive change in our world.
This project aims to generate a discussion around animals in captivity and in turn will help create a momentum changing behaviour and thoughts towards zoos and conservation campaigns.
‘TRANSITION: THE PROCESS OR A PERIOD OF CHANGING FROM ONE STATE OR CONDITION TO ANOTHER’
Fine art print 2018, 40 x 30cm
I’m a sucker for colour photography, particularly William Eggleston-esque documentary work that captures the seemingly mundane and commonplace. However it is precisely this style of work that invites us to stop and think, to reexamine and see the history and stories in our everyday surroundings. Gareth Sell’s piece explores the state subsidised travel of the eastern bloc, at the time seen as modern, yet now monuments to democracy.
Using the humble utilitarian bus shelter to portray individual communities, each one displays their own distinct character and contributes to a story of transition from an authoritarian state to democracy.
’52 SECONDS OF FAME’
Concrete, steel & polystyrene. 152 x 213 x 91 cm
This stacked sculptural piece is just brilliant. It has such character and and stature. Charlie’s choice of materials play a strong part in this – concrete and polystyrene, one of the strongest materials and one of the lightest. Apart from the structural reasons behind the materials, I love the interplay and contrast of the two, along with the piece’s physical presence and invasive stance.
My sculptures ride on brute materiality and a floppy sense of humour. With raw materials like concrete, steel, and timber I marry their urban, hard and stern qualities with a bentness, sag, snap and bow. Charlie Lang
Click here to find out who won the prize in 2019!