Young Masters Prize Pays Homage To Art Past And Present

The Young Masters Prize is an unique annual award which encourages artists to engage in art from an historical context. This year It will be presented to the artist who combines 21st-century originality with art that has existed before us. The creators of the Young Masters Art Prize believe that; “Art loses power if it writes off the past”. Judges will choose a winner possessing invention, originality, skilled technique and interesting subject matter . The winner must be 100 per cent contemporary but pays homage to the great masters of the past.

The judges of this years prize were astonished by the number of artists who made a passionate declarations of their debt to past masters, in art or words. Among painters and photographers were, Caetlynn Booth drew on Elsheimer; Cathryn Hancher and Helen Saunders on 17th-century Dutch still life; Andrew Hladky on Bosch; Janet McKay on Albers; Honor Bowman produced acrylics of empty houses on prompts from Hopper and Hockney. Galleries of the artists’ admiration, Dürer to Goya, Botticelli to O’Keeffe, 15th century-church woodcuts to Wenceslaus Hollar seemed to have no limit. But then an astonishing 422 artists applied to win.

The 26 artists who made the shortlist showed versatility be it sculptors, painters, photographers, video makers, draughtsmen and more.
The guidelines asked the applicants for an ‘artist statement’ and to submit five works of art. Shortlisted artists focus on allegorical and historical genres, taking inspiration from the past, whilst also subjecting it to reinvention. Photographer Lottie Davies creates large-scale works that are inspired by myths and history. The tableaux are reminiscent of historical painting, combined with a cinematographic style, whilst Derrick Santini’s lenticular photographs reanimate the myth of Leda and the Swan through a modern technique, with Leda presented as a dominant force. Karim Hamid’s portraits also examine femininity through stylised representations.
The 2012 exhibition has been installed in two contrasting spaces this year. Sphinx Fine Art in Kensington Church St. and Gallery 27 in Cork Street. Sphinx Fine Art is a dealership specialising in Old Master painting and drawing. In this first exhibition, mounted at Sphinx in October, the curator juxtaposes the submissions with the gallery’s exquisite collection of Old Master works.This illuminates the influence of the past on the present. At Gallery 27 the work has a context that highlights the contemporary nature of the work of this year’s shortlist.

The exhibition at Sphinx was particularly well thought out with a number of entries worth noting. My personal favourite was a portrait by the young artist Charles Moxon who made it to the final 300 in this years BP portrait prize. His lighting and handling of paint is extremely accomplished for a 20 year old who is in his final year at Camberwell. I was also taken with the work of Jeff Muhs who’s soft focus oil on canvas pays tribute to both Ingres and modern photography.

Photo: © Jeff Muhs Half Figure of Bather 2012

Exhibition Part 2 and Prize Giving: Gallery 27
27 Cork Street, London W1S 3NG
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 7595
Prize Giving: Tue 20th Nov, by invitation only Exhibition Dates: Mon 19th – Sat 24th Nov 2012 Hours: 11am – 7pm
Nearest Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus

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