Contemporary Visions V: Nine International Artists Stretch The Limits

Since its inception, Contemporary Visions has sought to identify current trends in contemporary art through the discovery of exciting young artists working across all artistic disciplines. Contemporary Visions V presents nine international artists who stretch the limits of their practice to create works that are playfully abstract, invariably bright, with a distinctive, almost acerbic energy. Together, they create a vision of contemporary art that is both unique and referential, quoting from an art historical language to reinterpret and reinvent their chosen media.

Contemporary Visions V is Beers Contemporary’s 5th annual open-call group exhibition. This year, nearly 2,000 entrants were juried by Amanda Coulson (Artistic Director of VOLTA New York/Basel), Paul Carter-Robinson (Editor Artlyst) and Kurt Beers (Director of Beers Contemporary and Author of ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’). 

Austin Ballard’s organic sculptural forms are tempered by the inclusion of metal and carpentry. The cold calculated cuts of metal interlock with the loose natural forms of clay and wood creating a subtle tension between the materials, a dialogue playfully mimicking that of manmade structures and the natural landscape. Ballard’s sculptural works often appear to defy gravity, precariously dangling on one edge of a surface, plinth or clay foot; certainly a further reminder of the fragile and perilous relationship between industrial and natural forms.

Luke Armitstead’s ceramics interact with their surrounding space by playfully questioning their status as objects of ‘use’ or ‘decoration’. These colourful, geometrically-charged forms take the shape of deconstructed architectural models, funky planters or tribal masks. Oliver Hickmet’s work also explores a relationship between truth and artifice through painting, sculpture, (even video, though not on display here) to investigate the role that the ‘image’ plays in forming a globalised culture and language. His practice invites us to question discrepancies that exist in any aesthetic dialogue, as well as in contemporary society more generally, and the highly mediated experiences of life we have become so used to consuming. Max Olofsson reaffirms this: using his laptop to create ‘digital paintings’ and rehashing tropes from within a pixelated language. His digital-photograph-paintings thus reverse the relationship between ‘original’ and ‘documentation’ to relinquish the very concept of being limited to (or inhibited by) a single artistic medium or method of display. These are artists actively challenging the barrier between real and imagined.
Felicity Hammond’s photographic compositions explore the constant construction and destruction of the urban environment. Hammond’s recent series depicts the transformative landscape of East London, composed like a collage and steeped in an unearthly cobalt hue. Together the still images feel charged, as though reverberating with the movement of urban decay. The entire composition questioning the authority of photography to depict reality – or, its ability to manipulate the viewer to interpret it as real and entirely free of farce.
Jonny Green performs a similar element: first composing small maquettes, the artist then painstakingly repaints these still-lives with oil on canvas. The resulting hyper-real paintings depict crudely rendered Play-Doh monsters, decked out in dollar-store Christmas lights, paper flowers and decommissioned clock parts. Yet we are reminded that we are viewing a carefully recreated scene, a painter’s scarecrow, meant to trick us into believing the silliness and its veracity like a type of representational mise-en-abyme. True, they are hyperreal, but to what extent, if the very imagery they depict is detached from reality? Jose Carlos Naranjo Bernal, the only other representational painter here, finds a breakdown of reality through mark-making, where subject matter seems incidental, almost as an afterthought to their framing within the painted plane: where elements of urbanity (a chainlike fence, for instance) become purely aesthetic.
Similarly, Alan Sastre’s paintings don’t feel like paintings at all. Awash in psychedelic hues and a determined working (and reworking) of their surface texture, where wide brushwork and the attention to their topographic nature belies such a miniature scale. These small tokens seem like leftovers of cyber-reality; almost jewel-like, radioactive remnants that seem to buzz and hum with an unearthly glow. Comparatively, Peter Baader’s paintings refute entry, pushing viewers away from the illusion of infinite space and establishing their flatness and artifice. As a result, his canvases become ambiguous, as though both referentially laden and void, where we are viewing an expanded field of sorts, an abstract reality of the artists own imagination.
LUKE ARMITSTEAD (b. 1989, Seattle) obtained a BFA in Ceramics, Sculpture, Painting, Design from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2011 and his postgrad in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2014. He has been part of several group exhibition including MONSTRVM IN HORTO, Courtney Blades, Chicago (2014); clay/material, UW Madison Ceramics, Common Wealth Gallery, Madison (2014); Overture Center for the Arts: “Elevating Clay: From the Wheel to the Wall”, Madison (2014); Hundred$, Zenxyth Art Collective, Madison (2013); Furniture 2013, Johnson Trading Gallery, New York (2013); Palm Reader, So What Space, New York (2013). Armitstead has been featured in publications such as: Dazed Digital “10 of the best Chicago artists right now” and Sight Unseen “Eye Candy: Luke Armitstead’s Ceramics”. The artists live and work in Seattle, WA.
PETER BAADER (b. 1965, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany) graduated from the Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf University of the Arts in the classes of Max G.Kaminski, Nan Hoover and Nam June Paik. Among the scholarships and prizes awarded to the artist are the Floodriver Residency Gartow (2014), the Förderpreis Jakob Eschweiler Stiftung Cologne (2009) and the Artist In Residence Bundanon Trust Nowra Australia (2003). His works are represented in renowned private and public collections such as the collection of Thyssen (Düsseldorf), Collezione Boltano (Zürich/Mailand) and Forum für Kunst (Herzogenrath). The artist lives and works in Köln, Germany.
AUSTIN BALLARD (b. 1987, United States) received his MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and his BFA from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he also served as an assistant professor. Ballard has received numerous grants and awards including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Sculpture Scholarship, the Dan Bown Project Award, Jeanne Stahl-Webber Sculpture Scholarship, Rhode Island School of Design Graduate Studies Grant, the Attilio and Emma Della Biancia Scholarship and a 2014 Windgate Fellowship. He has received coverage for his work in the Providence Journal, the Charlotte Observer, ArtCat, Flux-Boston, Field Projects, and LVL3. He has been awarded full fellowships to Sculpture Space, Ox-Bow School of Art, Vermont Studio Center, Wassaic Project, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Ballard has exhibited in over 30 group exhibitions including receiving the Grand Prize at the 2012 Boston Young Contemporaries exhibit at Boston University. Previous solo exhibitions include, The Shadow of the Palm is Deep at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT (2013), The Indivisibles at Napoleon in Philadelphia, PA (2013), and Phase of the Devout at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY (2012). Ballard is featured in private collections throughout the US and the UK.
JOSE CARLOS NARANJO (b. 1983, Cadiz, Spain) graduated in Fine Arts, specialized in painting from the University of Seville where he also received his Master of Arts in Theory and Practice. Solo exhibitions include Ojo por Ojo. Sala Rivadavia, Fundación Provincial de Cádiz. Diputación de Cádiz (2014); Caprichos y Disparates. Galería Birimbao, Seville (2012) and selected group exhibitions include NEIGHBOURS II, CAC, Malaga (2014); SUMMA ART FAIR, Matadero Madrid, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Colombia (2014); Plan Renove. Plaza del Pumarejo, Seville (2014); XVIII BMW de Pintura. Casa de Vacas, Madrid (2013); Open Studio, SVA- School Visual Art, New York (2013); XIV Convocatoria Internacional de Jóvenes Artistas, Galería Luis Adelantado, Valencia (2012); Crisis, ayer y hoy 1912-2012, Galería Birimbao, Seville (2012). His work is part of several collections CAC Malaga, Spain; BMW Spain; ARS CITERIOR, Elche, Spain; SCAN, London and foundations Ruiz-Mateos, Spain; Cajasur, Cordoba, Spain; Henrique Leotte, Portugal; Rodríguez-Acosta, Granada, Spain; Museo Alcalá de Guadaíra, Seville, Spain; Museo Europeo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona; Foundation of Arts and Artists, Barcelona; University of Seville and UNIA, International University of Andalusia. The artist currently lives and works in London.
JONNY GREEN (b. 1966, North Yorkshire) graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in Fine Art (painting). In the years immediately following art school the artist exhibited extensively both in England and the US, including representing England for the F.I.A.R. Art Prize, an international touring exhibition of the most promising young painters from several different countries. After a break from painting of nearly ten years (during which time he wrote, recorded and released 5 major label albums, toured the world as a musician, wrote 2 short movie soundtracks ((produced by Spike Jonze)) and had his songs used for numerous TV ads), Jonny returned to painting. Recent exhibition highlights have included a museum show ‘Beastly Hall’ at Hall Place in Kent alongside Carsten Höller and Damien Hirst as well as the Nanjing International Art Show in China.
MAX OLOFSSON (b. 1983, Gothenburg, Sweden) received his Master in Fine Arts from the Kungliga Konsthögskolan (Royal Institute of Art), Stockholm, Sweden in 2012 as well as his BFA in 2010. Selected solo shows include SCARF (Scandinavian Online Art Fair) – Digital Solo Show, for Stene Projects (2013); WTITB – What’s That in The Background? – with Sebastian Nordbeck, Stene Projects, Stockholm (2013); Where To Now? (#2), Stene Projects, Stockholm (2012). Previous group exhibitions include Secret Show (a real allegory of a seven year phase of my artistic (and moral) life), De Geersgatan 10, Stockholm (2013); The Daytime Nesting Project, Edelman PR byrå + Stene Projects, Stockholm (2012); Ett Rop Från Barken (A Cry From Barken), Smedjebacken, Sweden (2011); Sumiko, Tokyo, Japan (2010). The artist has also been part of the Karbenning Biennal, Stationshusets Första Biennal, Sweden (2013) and Hjärta Spel – Traveling Group Show, Datamuseet, Östergötlands museum, Linköping, the show will travel to different museums around Sweden until the end of 2014. The artist lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.
FELICITY HAMMOND (b. 1988, Birmingham) holds a Master degree in Photography from the Royal College of Art, London, 2014 and a BA in Fine Art Photography from the University of Gloucestershire, 2011. Selected exhibitions include Secret, Dyson Gallery, RCA (2014 and 2013); Splinter, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London (2013); ‘Photo Off’ Salon 2013, La Bellvilloise, Paris (2013); Open Studios, Cite Internationale Des Artes, Paris (2013); Made In Bow, Nunnery Gallery, London (2013); BYT (solo show), Westland Place Studios, London (2012); The Other Art Fair, Ambika P3, London (2012); PWP International Open Call Exhibition, NO Gallery, New York (2012); Tower Hamlets Spring Open, Mile End Art Pavilion, London (2012); Altered Reality, Calumet Photo Gallery, New York (2011); AOP Awards, AOP Gallery, London (2011). Felicity Hammond received the Metro Magazine Price, 2014 and First Prize, PWP 36th International Open Call Competition, (Composites), New York, 2012. The artist currently lives and works in London.
OLIVER HICKMET (b. 1992, Crawley, UK) graduated from the Fine Art Foundation, Byam Shaw School of Art and holds a BA in Fine Art from the City and Guilds of London Art School, 2014. Selected exhibitions include Recent Graduates, AAF, London (2014); Air, Piemonte Contemporary, Italy (2014); (DE)TOUR, Siauliu Gallery, Lithuania (2014); Need You 100%, Display Gallery, London (2014); Inside the Sarcophagus, MKII, London (2013); HacktheBarbican, Barbican Centre, London (2013); BA Interim Show, Factory Space, London (2013); +44, ArtsLav, London (2012); GRASSGRASS, Press Play Gallery, London (2012). Hickmet also attended a residency at the Martini Arte Internazionale, Turin, Italy, 2014. Oliver Hickmet lives and works in London.
ALAN SASTRE (b. 1977, Barcelona, Spain) attended the University of Barcelona and the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. Selected shows include Treatham Festival 14, ASC Studios, London (2014); Shuffle, Kreuzberg Pavillon. Berlin (2014); Hart Hat, ART NAKED. Library, London (2014); ALAN SASTRE // DUOLOGUE // JOSÉ ALCAÑIZ, Southfields Gallery, London (2013); PICTOBCN, Art production and research center Hangar, Barcelona (2013); Kaleidoscope, Mowlem Studios, London (2013); The Art Of Curiosity, Curious Duke Gallery, London (2013); Plaga Festival, Barcelona (2013); Barcelona Meeting Point, Barcelona (2010). The artist has also been acquired by the University of Barcelona; Das Eschmertal Museum, Herne, Germany; Rodriguez Acosta Foundation, Granada, Spain and Llotja Advanced School of Art, Barcelona. Alan Sastre lives and works in London.
Image: Felicity Hammond © 2014 all rights reserved

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