Goldsmiths Undergraduate Degree Show Review

Exhibition takes to the walls, floors and ceilings at Goldsmiths

As expected from a new generation of young, gifted artists trying to edge their way into an already tightly-knit, closed shop art world, this was a show full of hits and misses.
Spread over three buildings (Richard Hoggart, Ben Pimlott and Studio B) and a multitude of floors and gallery space, the sheer range of ideas, mediums and minds were perhaps what was most impressive. It wasn’t a question of finding work worthy of sitting in the context of a Damien Hirst exhibition and lets face it no student would have the money to put a shark in a sleek vitrine full of formaldehyde or cover a skull with De Beers diamonds. Indeed looking for that spark of potential innovation takes precedence even if the material and sometimes execution lets the overall effect of the work down.
Goldsmith’s seemingly appears to have put a large emphasis on installation artwork; much of the floor space was almost overwhelmingly covered with an eclectic range of objects and on occasion confusing artefacts. A number of the students had created a darkened space, veiled by a curtain, in an attempt to transport their audience away from the confines of the space. At times, this was carried out with success, and other times it left one feeling somewhat baffled by what they were being subjected to. Other such eccentricities such as, elephant masks, velvet tunnels, octopus tentacles and Prozac adverts, titled “Big Society” by Rachael Harlow, gave the whole opening a fairly surreal feel.
There was also some craft-like elements in the show including Robert James’ piece in which he skilfully hung shards of glass around an enclosed box-like space. In another work Shula Subramaniam has created a series of photo-montages that were almost reminiscent of Jeff Koons (without the sex), their vibrant colours and estranged subject matter engages, or not with the viewer. One gloomy but mysterious little oil painting by Jesica Hills, appeared to be a castle on a rocky bluff was a surprise waiting to be found. The painting seemed somewhat neglected and overshadowed by the more up to the minute techniques, favoured by the art colleges these days. There is clearly some original talent on show involving the painted medium. It was comforting to see that many of the works were inspired by already established artists, with one series of paintings by Tal Regev having a large dose of Francis Bacon thrown in for good measure.
There certainly wasn’t time to get bored at this show. Ideas seemed to be literally flying off the walls. Although,it was in the execution of some pieces that the real cracks in the plaster appeared. However, at this early stage, it seems more than conceivable that through a process of probability, one of these myriad ideas might well find its footing on the big stage at a later date. – Words/Photo Max Costley © 2011  Installation :Robert James 2011

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