Zavier Ellis Compares Young Gods, Misogyny, And Absurdity

Zavier Ellis

The young artist/curator Zavier Ellis runs the highly regarded CHARLIE SMITH London, the gallery has a history of identifying some of London’s best new art talent. Ellis has again curated ‘Young Gods’ at Griffin Gallery, and CHARLIE SMITH London, for the third year running. The artist/curator’s annual selection of graduates from London art schools is recognised by the artworld as a barometer of the best new artists from London. The exhibition has a proven track record for discovering vital new artists and introducing them to the international market. Previous selections have gone on to considerable success with galleries, museums, and collectors, including three artists from the 2013 selection being placed in the Saatchi Gallery collection.

Zavier Ellis was kind enough to give Artlyst a tour of the second part of the artist/curator’s exhibition ‘Young Gods’ at CHARLIE SMITH London, and talks about the work from his selection of up and coming artist graduates from 2014, in the third and final part of the artist/curator’s guide to emerging art talent from the capital. Ellis continues his conversation about artist Zhu Tian’s work ‘Selling The Worthless’ 2014, in which the artist tackles themes of control and misogyny by selling her own body online.

“I think there are feminist issues coming through in Zhu Tian’s work [‘Selling The Worthless’ 2014] every bidder in the auction was male – as we ‘might’ presume – but also you get some quite sexist banter coming through the piece as well, and the other piece we have are these shoes made from rubber [‘Babe’ 2013] – and then she’s used her own hair, it think that this piece is really great for its duality of attraction and repulsion, which is something that ii really respond to generally when I’m looking at work, and again we’re going back to the female aren’t we; in a way the artist is undermining, or basing the idea on established notions of glamour by casting these quite sexy high-heels, binding them with coarse string and then attaching what we would presume to be pubic hair – but we don’t really know – anyway bodily hair. The work is also very fetishistic as is the video piece of course with the fetishisation of the female body – particular parts of the body – which relates back to the art object itself, which is in fact a fetishistic object – and it goes back to Méret Oppenheim for example. There’s a bit of absurdity that runs through the show as well that i really enjoy.

The next piece in Young Gods at CHARLIE SMITH, is by Joshua Raffell, British, and from Chelsea School of Art, this is a really great piece, all of the tiny object that the work is constructed from are all interwoven so there’s a lot of work here – the piece again, looking at it in relation to his work over at the Griffin Gallery in part one of this exhibition, the work is about sexuality, it’s an absurd take on sexuality in fact, some aspects of the work relate directly to abuse as well, one of the pieces at the Griffin Gallery is actually a portrait of Jimmy Savile, [‘Sinsung’ 2014] and on it the artist has a coffin with ‘rot in pig shit’ written on it, did you notice? – and Joshua was abused himself – and is open about it, and discusses it in relation to his work. I think in this piece there are definitely shades of Emin here, with the idea of quilting, sewing, and the use of fabric, I guess Sarah Lucas as well. There’s a reason why I isolated the work at the rear of the gallery, to create this sense of worship as well, I think it could be some sort of emperor, he could be sitting on a throne of some description, where in fact he is sitting on ‘a’ chair.

The next works are from artist Tezz Kamoen she is Dutch, and also from Chelsea School of Art, and she made the huge wall-based almost mural like drawings really, made from crayon and other mediums over at the Griffin Gallery in part one of the show, so that was hers. These pieces are from her sketchbook, but she works incessantly and intently, and because of that I think all of her work can be considered as final work, you know? she’s drawing every single day. So what I wanted to do here was present something that provided a contrast to the great big seven metre mural we have over at the Griffin Gallery. Even her large work is very instinctive, there’s a strong element of automatism with it, and stream of consciousness as well. So it’s not exactly that it’s heavily pre-conceived, but I think also that there’s a lighter touch to these works: something ‘even more’ instantaneous, they are very much intimate.

You see that’s the benefit of putting the two shows on together in different locations to create contrast and comparison between the two sites which allows you to investigate the work of these artists a bit further I think.”

Read part one of Zavier Ellis’s tour here

Read part two of Zavier Ellis’s tour here

Words: Zavier Ellis with Paul Black Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2015 photo Artlyst all rights reserved

Young Gods London Graduates 2014 – Griffin Gallery & CHARLIE SMITH LONDON

Exhibition Dates until Friday February 6th 2015 The Studio Building, 21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON Wednesday Until Saturday February 14th 2015 336 Old St, 2nd Floor, London EC1V 9DR


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