Zavier Ellis Explores Young Gods, Modernism, And Jigsaws

Zavier Ellis

Young artist/curator Zavier Ellis runs the highly regarded CHARLIE SMITH London, which is renowned for 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 as a barometer of the best new artists in London. The exhibition has a proven track record for discovering vital new talent 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 artists from 2014, in part two of the artist/curator’s guide to emerging art talent from the capital. Ellis continues his conversation about artist Russell Hill’s work ‘Line Drawing’ 2014, a jigsaw that cuts a line along the wall, and is left protruding from the slit which forms a line mirrored by the electricity cable running into the wall socket behind it, and the artist’s use of toothpaste.

“So from Russell’s use of toothpaste, and domestic substances, from there you go into ideas around commercialism, corporations, and high and low materials – for me it’s very much about the hierarchy of materials – and then that takes me into the line of Modernism; from Duchamp in 1917, down to the ready-made’s onwards through Cubism, for example – with its use of found materials – to people like Schwitters even. So I think Hill’s work is very knowing, and on the face of it doesn’t really allude to, or nod to these great Modernist masters, but I think that it’s loaded into the work, part of the language, and also in a way the artist is looking to undermine that, and to question it as well, with these notions of the heroic artist, and the romantic – and he really wants to negate that. The work is a jigsaw that’s just run the line of the wall as far as it can go and that’s it. As I said, quite an audacious piece of art.

Now onto Gabriele Dini’s work ‘Rhizome’ 2014 – Gabriele is Italian – whereas Russell’s British – The work is an object: it might be a pulled tooth – and it might not be. The piece is actually made of ceramic, and sits on a glass shelf. The work is handmade, and again – we should view it in relation to the piece that the artist has over at the Griffin Gallery, the artist’s honeycomb sculpture, as he’s very interested in the organic, and also he calls it ‘swarm intelligence’ – the way that communities move, and interact, fabricate, and has studied the process from the animal world, and human’s as well, and has mapped the movements of the public in public places, and I think the title ‘Rhizome’ is a nod to Gilles Deleuze. With the root of the tooth we suddenly go outside of reality, as the root actually works back into itself, alluding to its fabrication, so it’s a very delicate and subtle piece.

Newton Whitelaw is another really exciting artist, and this piece was made at a very short residency over at ColArt and made this painting [‘Sea Vomit, Or An Oyster That Has Never Been Wounded Cannot Produce Pearls’ 2014, a mixed media work incorporating everything from acrylic, to felt, and oyster shells tied to the work with synthetic hair] and you can see that there are objects worked into the piece as well, there are oysters from where the artist lives – she’s British, lives in Margate, and is a Royal College graduate – and these objects refer to the experience of the artist really, the everyday experience of going down to the beach where the artist would shell oysters and eat them – she has even made paintings within them, and the shells are tied on to the painting with false hair extensions – so there’s something quite fairytale about the piece, but the artist’s work is actually about rituals, from the primitive historical ritualistic sense, to everyday ritual.

In a way she’s channelling it into ideas around Jungian archetypes, and dream imagination. The artist calls it departure, initiation, and return – a notion commonplace as a right of passage. So there’s the obvious suggestion of a journey, but also of going into a different realm, which actually relates to ‘second life’ virtual alternative reality – which the artist still plays around with; so the work is about fabricated environments. But then there’s this interweaving between the fabricated or the virtual, the everyday and the archaic, the primitive and the ritualistic, something that has been with us throughout time. I suppose all these individuals are in a right of passage as artists as well.

This next piece is by the artist Zhu Tian, who is Chinese, and is also from the Royal College of Art, there are two pieces in the show, this video piece titled ‘Selling The Worthless’ 2014, and a hanging object, ‘Babe’ from 2013 – and this is the artist in the video work auctioning off parts of her own body online – this is the relaying of the live auction as it happened, and you have the interaction, and the communication between the guys that are bidding on it and buying parts of her body; where in actual fact what she does is sell photocopies of the given part of the body, which some people bid for of course, and bought, as with the artist’s work ‘Dear Boss’ in the Griffin Gallery, the piece is about the corporate – it’s about power, personal power versus being ‘overpowered’ by elements of society. Where is one’s individuality? How does one remain empowered?”

Read part one of Zavier Ellis’s tour here

Read part three of Zavier Ellis’s tour here

Read the third and final part of Zavier Ellis’s tour next Sunday only on Artlyst

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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